Crime - Sacto 911

Another Sacramento neighborhood is getting microphones that detect gunshots

Employees of ShotSpotter monitor screens to look for alerts of gunfire at the company's central monitoring station. The company can locate gunfire seconds after it occurs by triangulating sound picked up by acoustic sensors.
Employees of ShotSpotter monitor screens to look for alerts of gunfire at the company's central monitoring station. The company can locate gunfire seconds after it occurs by triangulating sound picked up by acoustic sensors. Annie Tritt, NYT file photo

Oak Park will be the next Sacramento neighborhood equipped with gunshot detection sensors – a response to shootings in the area.

The Sacramento Police Department will carry out the project in collaboration with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, which is responsible for the nearby areas that fall in the county’s jurisdiction.

Sacramento City Council members approved $138,000 for the expansion during their meeting this week. The money comes from the city’s administrative contingency, a $1 million reserve in the city’s budget used for unforeseen expenses.

Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, a Sacramento Police Department spokesman, said the decision to expand ShotSpotter came after community requests to do so, as well as success with the technology in other neighborhoods.

Shotspotter microphones were installed in Del Paso Heights back in 2015 and in south Sacramento in 2016, leading Sacramento officers to arrest more than 89 people and seize 90 guns by the end of May, according the department staff report.

“Do we get guns off the street and do we make arrests that we wouldn’t have gotten without ShotSpotter?” Heinlein said. “Absolutely.”

That success is something that Councilman Jay Schenirer, who represents residents of Oak Park, hopes to replicate in the neighborhood, he said. A spate of gun-related crime in the past few months pushed him to advocate for the ShotSpotter technology in his district.

A 19-year-old man was fatally shot in the neighborhood in late June, and a pregnant woman was also hit by gunfire in the area days before. The woman and her baby were expected to live, police said at the time.

A SWAT officer fired his gun at a fleeing man, identified as Clifton Allison, 26, on July 27. Police say Clifton was seen by a resident on 20th Avenue and 36th Street. The resident called police saying they saw a man holding a gun who appeared as though he had been involved in a fight.

At least four people have died due to gun-related crimes in the Oak Park neighborhood this year, a review of the Sacramento Police Department’s press releases show.

Clifton was not hit by the gunfire, though he was eventually detained and booked on various charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, being a felon in possession of a firearm and an outstanding misdemeanor warrant.

“Oak Park has certainly had its share of crime and gun violence,” Shenirer said. “I think bringing in ShotSpotter is a very good tool for police in tracking down where violence could be taking place.”

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors also saw the benefits of ShotSpotter earlier this month, approving about $1.1 million to install the sensors in a three-mile area near the jagged political line that divides the city and the county. The money will also be used to hire four deputies who respond to alerts.

Sacramento will pay ShotSpotter to cover a remaining 1.8 miles near the city-county line, spanning from roughly the portion of Second Avenue between Highway 99 and Stockton Boulevard down to Fruitridge Road, the staff report says.

A hook-shaped portion of the county juts into the city’s jurisdiction starting at Fruitridge Road, creating a jagged divide between the two jurisdictions.

“The jurisdictional lines are not clear-cut like they are in other parts in the city,” Heinlein said. “We work collaboratively with the Sheriff’s Department. Sometime we go into their areas and vice versa to handle the calls.”

ShotSpotter uses a network of sensors to detect when a gun is fired. Loud sounds picked up by the sensors are analyzed to determine if the noise’s sound waves are consistent with that of gunfire versus other loud noises, like firecrackers. Nearby officers are alerted when gunfire is confirmed and are told where to go.

The ShotSpotter technology will allow officers from both agencies to coordinate when gunfire is heard, the staff report says. ShotSpotter microphones will be installed by the start of next year.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets

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