Oakland police may scrap the city’s gunshot detection system that some residents in high-crime neighborhoods say makes them feel more secure, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. ShotSpotter is an 8-year-old network of microphones that detect gunfire in most parts of East and West Oakland, record the audio, map the location and send an alert to patrol officers within 20 seconds. The system, which costs the department $264,000 a year, is expensive and redundant, police contend. They say residents already call to alert police when they hear gunfire, and the money could be better used to fund other technology, such as the police helicopter.
“Although ShotSpotter is very valuable … a lot of times it is followed with phone calls from our community, so we’re not missing out on a whole lot,” said officer Frank Bonifacio, a police spokesman. Police data show that ShotSpotter detects more gunfire incidents than are reported by residents. In February, the system documented 258 reports of gunfire across East and West Oakland – the two areas blanketed with sensors. During that period, residents called in 197 reports of gunfire. Interim Police Chief Sean Whent told the City Council that ShotSpotter is not a priority. The council must decide whether to renew ShotSpotter with the contractor, SST, a Mountain View company that provides the service.