James’s Musings

thoughts, photography, and geeky stuff
from an unrelentingly curious Silicon Valley entrepreneur

DC Expanding ShotSpotter System

by James G. Beldock on July 4, 2008

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).

ShotSpotter File Photo

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.

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