On February 9, 2022, the Pasadena Police Department announced the ShotSpotter gunfire detection system was activated at 9:00 AM PST, with the goal to help combat Pasadena’s gun violence problem.
The gunshot detection system from ShotSpotter, can dispatch officers faster and more precisely after a shooting. Currently, ShotSpotter will be in use in the Villa Parke area, where officials said gun violence is more concentrated.
ShotSpotter Triangulates Gunfire Sound
ShotSpotter personnel review and qualify all gunfire reports system generates. A detailed alert is sent to law enforcement within a minute if a report is determined to be actual gunfire. The speed of triangulation allows for faster response times to potential crime scenes.
Research indicates that across the US, less than 20 percent of all gunshots are reported to 911 or law enforcement. The Pasadena Police Department has another tool with the ShotSpotter technology and is not reliant on unreported or delayed reports of gunshots. The real-time alerts should enable officers to respond faster and safely an incident, police said.
According to Interim Police Chief Cheryl Moody, ShotSpotter technology is “a game-changer, especially for those communities most impacted by the violence over the past few years.”
“By installing this system, the officers of the Pasadena Police Department will be able to quickly respond, save lives and increase the chance of taking into custody, those responsible for the senseless acts of violence,” Moody said.
ShotSpotter System Affects Law Enforcement Efforts
ShotSpotter says the system improves police gunshot response time from an average of 4.5 minutes to 60 seconds. ShotSpotter’s gunfire data can also provide investigators with detailed information to improve evidence collection, prosecution and overall crime fighting efforts. The company also found that evidence collection improved with police only about 82 feet away (on average) from the location of the gunfire.
Community Pro and Con
Pasadena PD integrated ShotSpotter to combat a rise in violent crime in the city these past few years. Officials report the violence appeared to peak in 2020; from 2020-2021 homicides decreased 16 percent and assaults with a deadly weapon decreased 10 percent. Families of crime victims, such as the family of Mario Ramirez, a 10-year-old who was shot while playing outside his home on Valentine’s Day 2021, support the use of the system. The crime victim community hope that employing ShotSpotter will help protect their neighborhood and make it safer.
While the police department and families of victims have positive expectations for this is new crime-fighting technology, others in the community were less receptive during the city’s recent council meeting. Residents who oppose the ShotSpotter platform said it does not work as touted and it is only a response to gunfire but does not address the underlying issues that lead to crime. Critics also pointed to research which indicate ShotSpotter produced low arrest numbers and drew privacy issues.
“This is an alarming continuation in the creepy increases in surveillance by Pasadena city police,” commented a resident.
Despite those concerns, law enforcement officials in cities such as Denver and Houston recently extended their ShotSpotter contract and the system is active in over 120 cities such as Oakland, Richmond, Salinas; Chicago, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Miami, New York City, South Bend, and West Palm Beach. Moody said it is her hope that ShotSpotter will deter future acts of gun violence in Pasadena.
Police rely on the community to call 911 if gunshots are fired,
but only 20% of incidents are ever reported on average.
Blog Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Mathew Sumner. Engineer Stephan Noetzel alerts a police officer to gunshots on Illinois Street in East Palo Alto, CA, Dec. 31, 2008.
ShotSpotter Triangulation Diagram courtesy ShotSpotter, Inc.