Representatives from ShotSpotter, which claims to be the world leader in gunshot detection, gave a presentation about its service.
“We should really get it,” said Antioch resident Karl Dietzel. “We need to go away from the idea that if we hire 50 cops, all the crime will go away. We need to work with new technology.”
Gregg Rowland, ShotSpotter senior vice president, stressed the service isn’t a cure-all for crime in the city, but creates a safer and more effective strategic and tactical response to gunfire incidents where the technology is installed. ShotSpotter uses a broad acoustic sensor network to immediately triangulate and pinpoint the precise location of each gunshot.
“Our technology provides the ‘when, where and what’ of a gunfire incident,” Rowland said. “When officers arrive, they’re guided to the exact location of the gunfire. All they have to do is look down to find shell casings.”
According to Devi Lanphere, ShotSpotter national business development executive, the system has a 1-percent false positive rate and has decreased in cost by about 80 percent since the company unveiled the service in 1995.
The cost to the city of Antioch would be $160,000 for three square miles of coverage for the first year followed by $120,000 each subsequent year. Each additional square mile of coverage costs $40,000 per year.
Seventy law enforcement agencies in four nations, including the Contra Costa County cities of Richmond and San Pablo, use the service.
“Without a doubt, the city should get this,” said Antioch resident Marty Fernandez. “It’s a no-brainer.”
The system’s 15 to 20 sensors per square mile are almost impossible to detect. The technology was employed at the Democratic National Convention, and the company’s most notable client is the FBI, which often uses the technology in covert operations.
When law enforcement agencies employ the technology, they often find that gunfire is underreported by the community. According to Rowland, only 20 percent of gunfire incidents are called into 911, and out of 100 gunfire incidents, only one ends in a homicide.
The technology is able to differentiate whether gunfire originates from a stationary or moving source, and identifies the number of guns used in an incident. “We’re helping the police departments better manage their resources,” Rowland said. “When officers arrive, they know exactly what’s going on and the appropriate response to employ.”
Information obtained from the system also holds up in court. Thus far, the preponderance of evidence in seven homicides has come from ShotSpotter technology, Rowland said.
The company also unveiled a new service that eliminates the potential for a false positive by getting the gunshot incident validated by specially trained ShotSpotter employees at a nationwide control center. This new service, said Rowland, notifies police within 30 seconds of a gunshot. A mobile app has also been created to immediately notify officers in the field of gunfire nearby.
When Lanphere approached administrative members of the Antioch Police Department about obtaining the service, they were impressed by the technology but expressed the desire to hire more officers before looking into the service.
The Friday Morning Breakfast Club started after former Antioch Mayor Donald Freitas was voted out of office in 2008, and no longer held Friday meetings with the city manager, which routinely drew concerned citizens who wanted to speak about community issues.