Police use ShotSpotters to track those celebrating with gunfire

MIAMI (WSVN) - Firing guns into the air on New Year’s Eve is not only dangerous, but is also an illegal form of celebration in South Florida. Police are using a high tech tracker to find those gunshots and the people who pull the trigger.

On Oct. 10, 44 gunshots were fired in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. The shootout was recorded by ShotSpotter. It’s technology can pinpoint where and when shots are fired.

The City of Miami Police Department has used ShotSpotter for more than two years.

Dawn Budham, City of Miami Police emergency dispatch supervisor: “The alert goes off, lets us know the specific area, if it’s one shot, multiple shots and lets us know if it’s on the east or west side of an avenue, north or south of a street. We can hear the different types of weapons that were used. The system will tell us if it’s a high powered weapon.”

ShotSpotter works through a network of sensors that are mounted in secret locations in Little Haiti, Liberty City and Overtown.

In March of 2015, just after ShotSpotter went online, it recorded the gunfire that killed an innocent child.

Detective Jorge Agrait, Miami PD: “You’re hearing three shots in the location of Northwest Fourth Court.”

Ten-year-old Marlon Eason was shot in the head while playing in front of his house. ShotSpotter alerted officers to the shots and where they came from.

Detective Jorge Agrait: “A block away, there were three casings that were found.”

That discovery helped police eventually make an arrest.

Detective Jorge Agrait: “I think it’s a great system. It’s a great tool. It helps out a lot with investigations, time frames.”

Miami Police Officer Daniel Mocombe: “It’s all about safety, being safe out here.”

Mocombe has answered many ShotSpotter calls. He said the technology gives police vital information, especially when people don’t tell the truth.

Officer Daniel Mocombe: “Let’s say you have kids playing with a firearm in his backyard, but then he may lie about it. It’s like, no. It happened right here, and when you go searching that backyard, you find it.”

That’s especially important during holidays like New Year’s Eve since it can help police find people who are celebrating by firing weapons into the air. Those bullets can come down and injure — or even kill.

Dawn Budham: “It does not get confused. It is very sensitive to the fact that if it’s the Fourth of July or New Year’s, it knows the difference between a firearm and firecrackers.”

Several departments are using the technology, including Miami Gardens Police, and Miami-Dade Police are currently installing it; although it’s not operational yet. Others, like the Broward Sheriff’s Office, tested the system but decided not to use it.

But for Miami Police Officers, it’s a tool they’re glad to have in their arsenal of crime fighting weapons during the holidays and throughout the year.

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