East Bay cities optimistic about 'ShotSpotting' technology to detect gunfire on freeways

PINOLE, Calif. (KGO) -- In Contra Costa County, progress is being made on a massive project to fight gun violence on local freeways.

On Wednesday night, the CHP tested its gunshot detection system, which many say is not only helpful in solving crimes, but also with preventing them.

This program has been in the works for the past year, with multiple cities coming together on this -- all with the goal of keeping residents safe.

RELATED: CHP tests ShotSpotter tech along Highway 4 in Contra Costa County

For a period of time, residents in the East Bay were being alerted about a freeway shooting nearby on what seemed like a weekly basis.

Pinole resident Vince Collins says the stress can be tough. "You don't know that you might be the target that day, you know, I have daughters and they drive on this freeway," said Collins.

But progress is being made on what's called the Freeway Security Network Project, all aimed at reducing gun violence on sections of Highway 4 and Interstates 80 and 680 in Contra Costa County.

Officials conducted a calibration test of its ShotSpotter technology system Wednesday night, which allows strategically-placed microphones to pick up the sounds of gunfire, alerting law enforcement to the location of the shooting.

RELATED: CHP tests ShotSpotter tech along Highway 4 in Contra Costa County

"It's important because we need a live fire drill to see how it works, how fast it picks it up, where was the exact pinpoint location our GPS spotted, and see if that matched with what their records show, when we did the live fire last night," said CHP spokesperson Ofc. Brandon Correia.

The technology is just one component of the project, which also includes a network of surveillance cameras and license plate readers.

ShotSpotter is already in dozens of cities across the country but is being used on this scale on our local freeways for the first time.

The city of San Pablo recently installed it, with at least one official saying that it's already making a difference. "It's been able to bring some calming to our communities, so people don't have to be so nervous as they get up on the freeways to go to work," said San Pablo city councilman Rich Kinney.

The project is a multi-city effort involving Pittsburg, Antioch, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, and San Pablo.

The county is staying quiet on the exact locations where the technology is being installed, but the hope is to have everything online by the end of the year.
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