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San Diego Police Test System To Detect Gunshots, Explosions

An undated graphic shows how ShotSpotter technology helps police detect gunfire.
An undated graphic shows how ShotSpotter technology helps police detect gunfire.

The San Diego Police Department Tuesday began testing a high-tech sound-based system designed to immediately pin down the locations of shootings and explosions so officers can respond to emergencies and begin gathering crime scene evidence as quickly as possible.

The "ShotSpotter" technology, which uses concealed audio sensors and triangulation to provide accurate GPS readings of gunfire and ordnance-type detonations, is being tried out in the Valencia Park, Lincoln Park, O'Farrell and Skyline neighborhoods of San Diego, Lt. Scott Wahl said.

Officers conducted live fire testing of the equipment at about three dozen locations in those communities after going door-to-door to notify area residents. The personnel used bullet canisters that eliminated any hazards from the gunfire, Wahl said.


The "nationally accepted" system — used by police agencies in various U.S. cities, including Miami, Milwaukee and New York — promptly provides officers nearest shootings or blasts with locations of the incidents via the mobile computers in their patrol cruisers. Additionally, it captures sound recordings for evidence.

Barring problems with the network, SDPD officials said the department plans to have it up and running in the four testing areas in the "very near future," and eventually intend to deploy it in other parts of the city, according to Wahl.

"ShotSpotter is one method of using technology and innovation to provide the highest quality police services to the community we so proudly serve," the lieutenant said.

Asset-forfeiture proceeds are funding the project, Wahl said.