South Sacramento may see the installation of gunshot-detecting microphones in the next year.
The Sacramento City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night to continue using the ShotSpotter system in North Sacramento and to add another system to the south Sacramento area. Sacramento Police Department spokesman Sgt. Bryce Heinlein said the exact location of the expansion and timeline have yet to be determined.
Councilman Allen Warren, who represents North Sacramento, said at the meeting that the technology has been a tremendous asset, though there were some concerns at first about having microphones distributed through the community.
ShotSpotter picks up the sound of gunfire in real time and can report the location within 25 feet.
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“I think (the technology) was kind of a surprise in the community,” Warren said. “We’ve seen a number of guns taken off the streets directly, and when we see guns taken out of the hands of bad people or people who shouldn’t have guns, that is in the public interest.”
Councilman Larry Carr, who represents the area that will likely see the next installment, asked Warren how to best present the idea to the community. Before the meeting, he said he had some concerns about the effectiveness of the program.
Warren said he would be happy to attend a series of community meetings in south Sacramento with Carr to explain the system and its benefits to residents.
According to a city staff report, between June 15, 2015, and March 31, 2016, ShotSpotter picked up 454 perceived shots, only 90 of which were also reported by residents. ShotSpotter can distinguish between gunfire and other loud noises like car backfires.
“We did notice that the activity was up from recent reports,” Warren said. “What we believe is that the reporting that we had previously may not have been all that accurate. It’s not every occasion that these kinds of incidents get reported.”
Police arrested more than 50 suspects and seized 53 guns based on data from the microphones, the city report said. Heinlein said the system allows the officers to respond to gunshots in a more efficient way. Rather than responding to reports of loud noises, officers can go directly to the area where a gunshot occurred.
“Previously, we were given a very generic area where possible gunshots were heard,” Heinlein said. “This gives officers a heads up on what they’re responding to.”
Every time officers respond to a ShotSpotter activation, Heinlein said they go door to door to in the area to gather information from residents about what happened and to let them know why the police are in the area.
One high-profile case in which ShotSpotter came in handy was the shooting of Grant High School football player J.J. Clavo last year, he said. The police wouldn’t have known where the original crime scene was without the detection system.
Tuesday’s $365,000 agreement includes $165,000 to continue monitoring the area in North Sacramento and $200,000 to install the system in south Sacramento. Each square mile of usage costs $50,000 a year to operate, plus a one-time $10,000 activation fee.