ShotSpotter technology helps LE identify, deter illegal 4th of July celebratory gunfire


Second busiest shooting day of the year has gunfire rates up to 20 times higher than other summer days in cities across the U.S.

NEWARK, Calif. — The Fourth of July holiday may be known for fireworks, but it is also the second busiest day of the year for illegal “celebratory” gunfire, exposing innocent people to the risk of being injured or killed from errant bullets, according to ShotSpotter, Inc., the leader in solutions that help law enforcement officials identify, locate and deter gun violence. 

Gunfire incidents on July 4th in U.S. cities using ShotSpotter during 2019 were 2.5 times higher than the daily average for May through August in that same year. In several cities, the rate was up to 20 times higher on July 4th than the average summer day in 2019.   Wounds from celebratory gunshots may be more lethal than other gunshots, as the bullets are more likely to be head wounds.  A seven-year hospital study in Los Angeles found that the death rate from non-celebratory shootings were between 2 percent and 6 percent, while the death rate for those struck by falling bullets was close to one third*.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last year, the Bureau of Police prepared for celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve with increased staffing and a command center to respond to every incident of gunfire. “There’s a good possibility that if you fire a shot, you’re going to see a police officer relatively soon,” said Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich. “If you don’t see an officer that evening, you might still get a knock on the door in the days that follow, because ShotSpotter helps us pin down the location from which a gun was fired.”

A challenge for police during holiday periods such as July 4th and New Year’s is that residents may mistake the sound of fireworks for gunfire, unwittingly calling police and consuming valuable resources at a critical time. ShotSpotter’s gunfire detection system helps to alleviate this issue by carefully distinguishing between fireworks and gunfire.

“We continue to improve ShotSpotter’s accuracy by leveraging our recent advancements in machine learning and proprietary database of nearly 20 million acoustic events,” said Ralph A. Clark, CEO and President.  “We have also invested in new acoustic and visual assessment tools for our experienced Incident Review Center Staff to differentiate fireworks from gunshots. The results of using both machine and human classification have earned ShotSpotter a near perfect score with a reported false positive rate of less than ½ of 1%.”

ShotSpotter offers resources for law enforcement officials to help reduce celebratory gunfire and are available at the ShotSpotter web site at https://www.shotspotter.com/celebratorygunfire/

*https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/24/how-dangerous-is-celebratory-gunfire

About ShotSpotter Inc.
ShotSpotter provides acoustic gunshot detection and precision-policing solutions to help law enforcement officials and security personnel prevent and reduce gun violence and make cities, campuses and facilities safer. The company’s flagship product, ShotSpotter Flex, is the leading gunshot detection, location and forensic analysis system, and is trusted by over 100 cities. ShotSpotter Missions uses artificial intelligence-driven analysis to help strategically plan patrol missions and tactics for maximum crime deterrence. ShotSpotter has been designated a Great Place to Work company.

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