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Vegas police begin testing acoustic gunshot detection system

November 17, 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas police have begun testing a network of acoustic gunshot sensors in a section of the city to see if it helps cut the time officers take to arrive at shootings.

Department and elected officials announced Thursday the ShotSpotter system is being deployed in an area northeast of downtown where police are called most often to investigate gunfire reports.

Capt. Jim LaRochelle, the area commander, didn’t say exactly where the sensors are being placed. He said they are installed above the ground, in places such as buildings, and are not designed as microphones to pick up conversational speech.

They are designed to identify pops or booms that that might be gunshots, triangulate the location, analyze the sound by computer and direct the data to a human analyst to notify police, officials said.

Installation is part of a one-year pilot program designed to detect, locate and alert police of gunfire in less than a minute, which officials said could be faster than it would take for a person to determine if and where the shots were fired and decide to pick up the phone and call 911.

People in some neighborhoods where gunfire is frequent may not call police at all, LaRochelle said. But he said police hope people will still make those calls.

Officials said plans call for adding sensors in two other Las Vegas police command areas in coming months.

ShotSpotter says more than 40 police agencies use the system, including Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Denver, New York, Chicago, Miami and the California cities of Sacramento, Fresno, and San Diego.

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