I am happy to report that Washington DC has formally announced its plans to expand its ShotSpotter system to what will become the largest in the world (covering nearly a quarter of the District). Allison Klein’s article “District Adding Gunfire Sensors” on the front page of today’s Washington Post Metro Section does an excellent (and, as usual, both balanced and accurate) job of providing the details. Highlights:
- ShotSpotter was originally deployed in the District by the FBI, in August 2006; the Metropolitan Police Department has subsequently taken over operational responsibility.
- By September, police will be covering 16 of the District’s 68 square miles with ShotSpotter.
- Police rely on ShotSpotter to provide accurate information about gunfire more quickly than they hear about it at 911—if anyone calls 911 in the first place (more often than not, they don’t).
- In one district (District 7, where 21 of the City’s 78 homicides occurred last year), ShotSpotter detects as many as 50 gunfire incidents per week.
- ShotSpotter has helped DC police make arrests, save lives, and has provided key evidence in high profile cases, such as the officer-involved shooting of DeOnté Rawlings.
The blogosphere and traditional news media are actively reporting this news. Check out the coverage and photo on Fox News and WTOP, and blogs at YourStreet, APBNews, and of course on the ANC2C02 Forum (a resident of Shaw and a regular blogger on the topic).
Personally, it’s gratifying to see a city and its community rally around what my colleagues and I spend our days working so hard to deliver. Nothing replaces good, hard police work (no ShotSpotter sensor will ever look in someone’s eyes and make a tough decision, put its life at risk every day, or put handcuffs on a suspect), but in the end, our job is to deliver our first responders the best tools they can have, and it appears to be working in our nation’s capital.