WACO, Texas – In 2021, the Waco Police Department responded to 1,894 gun related calls.

Waco PD says the community plays a vital role in gathering information to solve these cases, but if witnesses don’t speak up criminals are never caught.

The department says last year 12 out of 17 homicides involved a gun, and the impact of this type of violence takes a toll on the entire community.

Waco PD Public Information Officer Cierra Shipley says, they are now speaking out because they do not want innocent lives lost to senseless violence.

“Our investigators, officers, detectives, along with the Mclennan County Districts Attorneys office, are all working hand in hand to find out who the criminal is in these investigations,” Shipley said. “We are processing at the fullest extent of the law to keep those criminals in jail.”

She says the firearm calls happen more at night and witnesses can help detectives by sharing the information they have discovered.

“The hard part is those witnesses, they are afraid to speak up. They are afraid to come forward with information,” Shipley said. “We completely understand that, and that’s why we have our crime stoppers hot line that is set up for those anonymous tips. The best part about that is if the tip leads to an arrest, the caller can receive up to $2,000 in a reward.”

According to Guns & America, over 70 million people own a gun with gun purchases hitting an all time high since the pandemic started.

Shipley says the majority of gun fire in the Waco community is targeted but some are just careless shooting in the air.

“We don’t know were that bullet goes if you are shooting it in the air, what goes up must come down,” Shipley said. “That bullet can hurt an innocent family, it could go into a home, a business and we just don’t want those innocent lives to be affected by this.”

Waco Police Chief Sheryl Victorian addressed this topic with the public on Friday, January 28. You can watch the video below.