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Monitoring System Locates Dozens Of Shootings In North Sacramento

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The white "M" in the orange circle shows where a gunshot originated in the Shot Spotter program being tried out by the Sacramento Police Department.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The Sacramento Police Department says the first six weeks using a gunfire tracking system called Shot Spotter have been a success.

Under a year-long trial program, the company SST installed dozens of sensors in three square-miles of north Sacramento.  Since mid-June, the sensors have detected 71 gunshots.

Lydia Barrett with SST says the company identifies and posts a  gun shot location - accurate to within 25 feet - on police computers within 60 seconds and may also be able to tell officers which direction the shooter is going.

"If they know it's moving northeast at 32 miles an hour, they might be able to stage their response to this incident more carefully, by perhaps coming in on this side to ward off the suspects."

The sensors are tied to a cellular network and a monitoring station. in Newark, California. When a gun is fired, a monitor at SST uses the length of time it takes for the sound to reach each sensor to calculate where the gun was fired.

Sacramento Police have used the technology to  confiscate at least four firearms and arrest three people in connection with shooting incidents. 

Police Chief Sam Somers says he hopes the technology will deter people from firing their guns in the city.

"It's also providing us an opportunity to knock on the specific doors where we can connect with that community and make sure they're okay - not for the purpose of enforcement or anything like this, but just to let them know that we're here and we're here to make their community safer."

Somers says in one case, the technology led officers to a gunshot victim.

"The officers were immediately on the scene that we wouldn't have responded in that manner to be able to render some kind of aid to this individual if we hadn't had Shot Spotter technology to get us out there. Now, we might have eventually got out there. Someone might have called us. But, because we had this, it gave us a leg up based on the information we had received."

The trial program lasts a year and costs $150,000 for the three-square-mile trial area. Somers says he hopes to expand the program to other areas of the city.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob is the Sacramento Region Reporter. He has been at the forefront of the coverage of the Sacramento Kings' saga and the effort to build a new arena in Sacramento. He also covers education, business, environment, and sports stories.   Read Full Bio