The Seattle Times reports that Mayor McGinn’s 2013-14 budget will include $1 million annually for ten additional police officers and $950,000 for 52 gunshot locators. He will unveil the details of his budget next week.
The city wants to install up to 52 mobile gunshot locator units, with each having a minimum 600-foot radius range and the ability to pinpoint a gunshot to within a 50-foot radius. The units also can stream video and determine the caliber of weapon that was fired with a 90 percent accuracy rate.
Hiring 10 new officers would bring the department’s total to 1,310.
East Precinct Captain Ron Wilson previously told the EastPAC group that he plans on requesting as many officers as possible if the city were to hire more officers. However, other Precinct Captains would likely do the same.
The gunshot locators are essentially microphones that help the police better track the location and frequency of shots fired incidents, which often go unreported. They may also help police know when reports are actually fireworks or a backfiring car engine. Today, they can’t confirm the shots unless they can locate evidence, such as shell casings or, of course, victims. Similar systems are used by many cities, including Washington DC and LA (the Wikipedia entry on the systems is worth a read for more information).
Neither hiring more officers nor a gunshot locator system came up at this week’s discussion about violence in the CD, which focused more on programming and neighbors getting to know each other better.
After the Justin Ferrari shooting there were a number of comments suggesting the CD adopt a gunfire locating system akin to what’s being used in Oakland, CA. Our city councilman Bruce Harrell appears to have taken a great interest. Bruce has some ideas posted on his .gov site:
Hopefully he can advocate for installation of a gunfire locator station in the CD.
Or more than one
So these things are essentially cameras/microphones with a limited radius. I don’t know how I feel about this yet without getting some more info. How will these gunshot locators be distributed around the city? I would like to know what the City states as its planned outcomes from this expense. What will be specifically accomplished from these locators? That’s a lot of money for a small system. If the intended outcomes are realistic and achievable then I am all for it. But if this just becomes an expense that makes no difference in actual crimes being committed than this kind of public waste of money sucks.
The point is that they are another tool in the toolbox. I agree that they don’t actually stop the crime directly – and there should always be efforts aimed at doing that; I’m not a technological determinist – but on numerous occasions I have been asked “did you hear a gunshot?”, “which direction?”, “how far away?” by cops who are responding to a 911 call.
I’ve also been one of those 911 callers who is trying to describe where shots just occurred, waiting to be connected to a mobile unit to relay what I heard while watching the suspect’s car drive away.
These monitors – if deployed effectively – will essentially take 911 out of the loop, directing a response close to the site of the shots without the human error and latency. The increased response time will result in more suspects being caught, rather than being able to slip away, which will result in more arrests and, ultimately, less people being shot.
Here’s a nice article on the technology and it’s effects:
the greatest thing to fear is fear itself! there is no need for any of this! spend that money on education then you dont have dummies running around with a reckless abandon towards life. this will solve nothing, and those little microphones can listen thru walls, I like what little privacy I have left. NO THANK YOU BRUCE
Many different tools are a good thing. I would like to see this type of analysis for all the different tools. While tracking 911 calls is one, one problem with that model is that someone has to be present and empowered to make the call on shots and other issues. Safety, including police service is a social justice issue and includes equal access and service, along with many of the issues around profiling and community relationships. I believe that at least at one time, there were neighborhoods who did not receive services when they did call and were discouraged from calling 911. Others were empowered.
When I lived in one particular part of the CD in the 80’s we would call in gunfire at night to 911, and they’d call back 2 hours later and ask if we still needed a patrol car to come out. That was back when taxis wouldnt come down the hill from 23rd and John at night in to the valley, and we’d have to walk down the hill on a Saturday night. Locators would be nice NOW for those still hearing shots at night because it’s very, very hard to say where they’re coming from. If it helps SPD stop idiots doing driveby shootings by locating the shooters faster, yahoo.
So they want 52 cameras and microphones up, apparently this is cell block C.D.? No way. The mayor and city council need to get their heads out their arses and stop pissing our money away. How many more BS parking tickets will we have to pay for funding their pet projects?
I’m with Mrs. D.
We can afford a million bucks on this trial. We can’t afford the continued rule of gangs over the hood.
Actually Upitty, I don’t really see that people are afraid.
We just despize the vile thugs that have no consideration for life. They rape, steal, murdur, and destroy. Letting those creeps stay in our neighborhood is like feeding the cockroaches and rats at your kitchen table. They are discusting filth. The gunshot locators are just another kind of vermin trap. Let’s try it out.