Shot Spotters identifies pop sounds

July 3, 2009 6:56:05 PM PDT
A system called Shot Spotters was designed to detect gunfire. Richmond police are using it this July 4th holiday to detect not only people firing off their guns, but setting off fireworks. The system was put in just a month ago and it is just in time for the holiday.

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The recorded sound of a bottle rocket going off was captured Thursday on the 100 block of 2nd Street in Richmond.

It was set off by a 13-year-old boy. Part of the duplex he lives in and a neighboring home caught on fire. The explosion was picked up by a sensor which is one of many placed around the city. The system called Shot Spotters detects loud noise.

"It differentiates between gunfire, fireworks and other loud noises. So we're concerned this time of year on gunfire and fireworks," says Richmond Police Sgt. David Harris.

The yellow dots on the screen represent fireworks and the red dots are gunfire.

"You can see in the last 24 hours, this is all the gunshots and fireworks," pointed out Sgt. Harris.

To be exact, from midnight to midday Friday, there were 435 hits from fireworks and 22 gunshots in the city. Many cities like Richmond have banned fireworks, even safe and sane ones, but that hasn't been much of a deterrent during the July Fourth holiday.

Residents we spoke with say the fourth is crazy. Almost everyone told ABC7 gunshots frighten them more than the risk of their homes burning down.

"We can get out in case of fire, but I mean a shooting is the most scary thing over here," said a Richmond resident only identified as "Ave."

Extra police and firefighters will be patrolling the streets this weekend. Still, for long time residents, it's going to be another noisy and perhaps dangerous holiday.

"Very dangerous. I wouldn't want to be out in the Fourth of July night," says Richmond resident Janice Modica.

But this Fourth of July, police will have a new set of eyes and ears -- the Shot Spotter.

The City of Richmond will have an official fireworks show on the Fourth of July and residents are encouraged to attend, rather than setting off their own fireworks. That's at Marina Bay Park at 9:15 p.m.

Link: Full list of Fourth of July events

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