SDPD tests new technology designed to thwart active shooters

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SAN DIEGO  – The San Diego Police Department Tuesday began testing a high-tech sound-based system designed to immediately pin down the locations of shootings and explosions so officers can respond to emergencies and begin gathering crime-scene evidence as quickly as possible.

The “ShotSpotter” technology, which uses concealed audio sensors and triangulation to provide accurate GPS readings of the origins of gunfire and ordnance-type detonations, is being tried out in the Valencia Park, Lincoln Park, O’Farrell and Skyline districts, SDPD public-affairs Lt. Scott Wahl said.

Officers conducted live-fire testing of the equipment at about three dozen locations in those communities after going door-to-door to notify area residents. The personnel used bullet-collecting canisters that eliminated any hazards from the gunfire, Wahl said.

The “nationally accepted” system — utilized by police agencies in various U.S. cities, including Miami, Milwaukee and New York — promptly provides officers nearest shootings or blasts with locations of the incidents via the mobile computers in their patrol cruisers. Additionally, it captures sound recordings for evidentiary purposes.

Barring problems with the network, SDPD officials plan to have it up and running in the four testing areas in the “very near future,” and intend to deploy it in other parts of the city eventually, according to Wahl.

“ShotSpotter is one method of using technology and innovation to provide the highest-quality police services to the community we so proudly serve,” the lieutenant said.

Asset-forfeiture proceeds are funding the project, Wahl said.