Fresno police hope to expand gunfire sensing tech

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The Fresno Police Department is planning to expand the department's Shot Spotter technology to help officers keep a closer and more accurate watch over the city. (KFSN)

The Fresno Police Department is planning to expand the department's Shot Spotter technology to help officers keep a closer and more accurate watch over the city.

Right now, sound detection monitors cover three square miles of the city, but Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer is hoping to have 12-square miles covered within the next year.

On New Year's eve, Fresno police got 331 calls of gunfire within the city. Officers could pinpoint far more bullets if the chief is able to expand the technology to reach 10 percent of the city.

On the night notorious for calls of shots fired Fresno police were able to track down a fraction of those stray bullets, mostly in the small part of the city armed with audio detectors. "Whenever there is a gunshot," Dyer explained. "We are finding shell casings within about 8 to 10 feet from where the Shot Spotter technology is."

Weeks after the New Year's eve gunfire ended, detectives are still following up on several locations where welcoming the new year included more than champagne toasts. Officers have already made a few arrests for reckless discharge of a firearm, and they are working on more.

"We're going to retrieve the shell casings," Dyer said. "We're going to do our due diligence in investigating, contacting neighbors and witnesses, do a search warrant -- ultimately arrest people and seize their firearm."

Dyer is concerned by 2015 year-end statistics that showed an increase in shootings over the previous year. On average, there was one shooting a day last year that ended in a car, person or building being hit by gunfire.

The precision of Shot Spotter in the short time officers had the technology is the reason the chief wants to cover more of the city with the sound monitors

"Just in that area, we get right around two gunshots per day that have been reported to us," Dyer said. "And the success or benefit of Shot Spotter is that it immediately notifies us so that our officers in the field within about 30 seconds can literally pinpoint where that gunshot is coming from."

Dyer is hoping assistance from Fresno Unified will allow him to expand the sensors to cover two more miles, and additional funding he is working to secure would pay for an additional 7-square miles.
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