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by Peter Moskos

October 21, 2009

Gunshots or Firecrackers

Justin Fenton writes about a gunshot detection system in the Eastern. An interesting concept. Mixed results at best.

Cops, after a little while, get pretty good at telling the difference between gunshots and firecrackers. They're very similar, but gunshots are kind of a shorter, tighter bang. It's kind of hard to describe. But you would think a computer could better tell the difference. They can't yet.


Adrian said...

In Rochester we use Shotspotter. It can't tell the difference either, but it can still be useful for putting an exact time on a shooting. There's no way it could be responsible for a 63% drop in shootings though.

DJK said...

What is the rate of closed cases based on the use of that thing? .00000000001%?

HUGE waste of money.

Marc S. said...

Yeah, the difference between a 40,000psi barreled explosion and a firecracker is subtle but easily distinguishable. Also, gunfights tend to have a certain cadence to them. Either way, it's bad enough you get dispatched by the neighbors (who probably have a decent ear for the differences as well in some 'hoods) calling in firecrackers as gunshots, not you have a computer doing it.

DJK is right about the huge waste of money. I listen to shots fired calls come in all night in the city and i just about never get called for a victim nor do I ever hear the PD make an arrest. Normally they don't even get out of the car, they just drive by and clear the call.

PCM said...

Indeed, most gunshots are shot in the air and not at people. But I wouldn't mind locking up a few of those idiots, too.

When I got a call for shots fired, that's exactly what I'd do: drive around and look for a body. No victim, no crime.