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Antioch Adds ShotSpotter Gun Detection, Alert System

“We have to use technology to help in aiding the efforts with the work that police officers are doing, because we just don’t have the number of officers that we need,” said Mayor Lamar Thorpe.

The Antioch Police Department will be getting some new help in its effort to combat gun violence, with the addition of ShotSpotter, a gunfire detection and alert system.

The City Council has approved the proposed five-year, no-bid contract for the Newark-based company to deploy 4 square miles of outdoor acoustic sensors to listen for the sound of guns and send alerts to police within 60 seconds of shots being fired.

“We just really want to bring this technology to help reduce gun violence, be a deterrent, help get your police there faster to save lives,” Terri Greene of ShotSpotter said. “I have dozens and dozens of stories from our customers around the country but mostly in the Western states and in California.”

Cost of the system and subscription is $1,410,000 plus a one-time $10,000 startup fee. The first-year cost of the ShotSpotter services will be paid by re-allocating police department salary savings in the general fund budget, according to staff.

Since it was launched in 1996, ShotSpotter has signed up dozens of police agencies, including Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond, East Palo Alto and Redwood City. It works by locating and tracking active gunfire in support of a police department’s efforts to ensure more effective responses to and investigations of gunfire incidents.

ShotSpotter will detect and accurately locate to within 25 meters of the actual gunshot location 90 percent of unsuppressed, outdoor gunshots fired inside the coverage area using standard rounds greater than .25 caliber, company officials said.

Antioch police reported a 40 percent surge in gun violence in 2021, Antioch police Lt. John Fortner said in his report, noting ShotSpotter can support two of the city’s anti-crime-related initiatives, including community outreach with the creation of a community dashboard pinpointing shootings, and helping prevent violence by providing precise location and alerts to help officers find victims, witnesses and evidence that can lead to suspects and arrests.

Mike Katz-Lacabe, director of research for the Center for Human Rights and Privacy, urged the council not to approve the contract with ShotSpotter. He said it is not a crime deterrent and cited as example the city of San Pablo, which installed the technology in 2016 and yet gun detection has gone up in three of the four years it has been used. He also said that despite the 156 ShotSpotter microphones along Highway 4 and Interstate 80, the number of freeway shootings has increased.

Katz-Lacabe also advised the council to put the proposal out for bid.

Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock also questioned the bidding process.

Fortner said it was justified because of the array of services ShotSpotter provided beyond the other companies. It also could be integrated with other nearby ShotSpotter technology such as in Pittsburg and along Highway 4.

City Attorney Thomas Smith said that the staff could take a deeper dive into what the companies offer if it wanted.

Mayor Lamar Thorpe also said he supported launching the service, noting it’s been long in the making.

“Over the decades, we have been having challenges with hiring police officers in this city, and one of the things that has become very clear is that we have to find technology,” he said. “We have to use technology to help in aiding the efforts with the work that police officers are doing, because we just don’t have the number of officers that we need.”

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