Pittsburgh councilman proposes buying audio sensors to detect origin of gunshots
By Bob Bauder
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 3:57 p.m.
Pittsburgh could buy a $150,000 gunshot detection system for high-crime neighborhoods in the East End.
The ShotSpotter system includes acoustic sensors situated on buildings that can pinpoint a gunshot's exact location and automatically send the information to police within seconds. Councilman Ricky Burgess, who introduced legislation Tuesday to authorize the purchase, said he hopes to test the system in neighborhoods such as East Liberty, Homewood and Larimer before expanding its use.
“It's a tool to improve public safety in real time,” Burgess said. “It will allow us to pinpoint any gunshot. It will tell us the caliber, the number of shots, the exact location and speed and direction a shot is traveling.”
Burgess said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. encouraged him to introduce the bill, which Pittsburgh police and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl both support.
Police in other cities, including Wilmington, N.C., and Milwaukee, said ShotSpotter has helped them reduce gun violence.
Cpl. Kevin Smith in Wilmington said the city has been using ShotSpotter since 2011. Gunshots have decreased by 67 percent where the sensors are located, he said.
Detective Christopher Blaszak in Milwaukee said the system, combined with police intelligence, has helped officers solve homicides and reduce gunfire in the streets. It also helps the department pinpoint certain days and hours when gunfire is most prevalent.
“For us its been a very positive thing,” he said.
City Council also considered buying the system in 2007 and 2009, but didn't do so because of the cost.
Assistant Pittsburgh police Chief Maurita Bryant said the department logged 2,048 reports of shots fired last year, 33 percent coming from East End neighborhoods. She said the system would take pressure off residents fearful of calling police.
Burgess also introduced a bill requiring the department to release an abridged version of its policies and procedures, saying it would improve public confidence in police. Public Safety Director Michael Huss and police Chief Nate Harper oppose the bill.
“To publish these policies ... would place our officers in risk of harm,” Harper said in an email.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates agree with Barmes on 1-year deal
- Pirates claim 3 pitchers in minor league Rule 5 draft
- Garden Theater developer says plans changing for block’s buildings
- Peduto among mayors-elect to meet with Obama on Friday
- Human skeleton found in Bellevue
- Multi-Grammy-winning vocalist Bolton pleased to sing favorites, holiday tunes
- No one injured in clothes dryer explosion
- Steelers notebook: Worilds loses sack; Big Ben gets 1st career catch
- Police: Fayette man took money in exchange for passing grades on drivers’ tests
- Motivated quarterback Roethlisberger fights to prop up Steelers
- Penguins center Sutter is thriving despite unsettled 3rd line