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Sacramento to Try Pinpointing Gunfire with Acoustic Surveillance System

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Sacramento City Council voted unanimously to sign a one year trial contract with Shot Spotter, a Bay Area company that provides an acoustic surveillance system that can pinpoint the origin on shots fired within 25 feet, and in less than 60 seconds.

"We know there is a lot of underreporting of gunshots," Deputy Police Chief Ken Bernard said. "We see this an opportunity to use as an engagement tool to say, 'we didn't get a phone call, but we know some shots came from this neighborhood, so are they okay?' Just to let them know we are on their side, even though they don't have the confidence to call.

With more accurate information, the Sacramento Police Department says it will lead to better response times, more lives saved, and quicker arrests.

The system has been proven to be extremely successful in cities like Oakland, Miami, Boston, etc. The Sacramento testing ground will be a 3-mile radius of North Sacramento, including Del Paso Heights, which Police say has the highest volume of reported gunshots in the city.

"We want to start small and see if it works out, and see if it really is a valuable tool as we think it is going to be, and ramp it up from there if we can find the funding," Deputy Chief Bernard said.

The $150,000 trial fee will come from the Sacramento Police Department's Asset Seizure fund- or funds acquired through narcotics busts. That will get them the Shot Spotter Service until June 30, 2016. At the end of the trial period, the Department can decide to continue or discontinue the service.

"We can just say 'thanks but no thanks,' if we want," Bernard said. "But we were able to use a relatively modest sum of money to try something new, and we are not on the hook to use it years at a time."

Sacramento Police says the company is not monitoring or listening into private conversations. The 24/7 dispatch Headquarters in the Bay Area only recognizes and differentiates high frequency boom noises such as gunshots, fireworks, and back fire.

Construction of the low profile sensors in North Sacramento will begin soon.