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Random Gunfire Problems and Gunshot Detection Systems, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1999
8 pages
Publication Series
This Research in Brief summarizes the findings of field studies of two gunshot detection systems: Trilon Technology’s ShotSpotter system and Alliant Techsystems Inc.’s SECURES system.
The field tests examined acoustic sensing systems designed to detect the sound of a muzzle blast from a gun and, within seconds of the shot being fired, triangulate within some margin of error the location from which the shot was fired. Random gunfire problems, the “indiscriminate discharge of firearms into the air,” are strictly an outdoor activity, are not usually part of other criminal activity and random gunfire shooters do not fire their weapons to intentionally injure or kill people. The study of gunshot detection technology disclosed that: (1) the systems are likely to reveal rather high citizen underreporting rates of random gunfire problems; (2) the technology is likely to increase police workloads, particularly if departments dispatch a patrol unit to every gunfire incident detected; (3) the systems are not likely to lead to more arrests of people firing weapons in urban settings because it is highly unlikely that offenders will stay at a location long enough for the police to arrive; and (4) the systems would fit into the problem-oriented policing paradigm, helping to identify random gunfire hotspots and develop strategies to address the problem. Table, notes

Date Published: December 1, 1999