Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/7/2008 (4525 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg police Chief Keith McCaskill will discuss turfing the idea with members of city council's protection sub-committee this morning.
Mayor Sam Katz had asked city police to look into the technology after a Statistics Canada report in February found Winnipeg had the second-highest rate of gun crime in Canada.
In his report to be tabled this morning, McCaskill said while gun violence is a serious problem and a significant public safety issue for Winnipeg, the absence of "a clear and specific geographical target" where the technology would be used means its effectiveness may be limited.
Gunshot-sensing systems like ShotSpotter use audio sensors to triangulate the location of so-called shots-fired incidents in city neighbourhoods.
The data produced by these sensors are immediately relayed to police, who can then respond quickly and hopefully make arrests.
The technology is widely used in dense urban environments like Minneapolis, Boston and San Francisco. Barring an export agreement from the U.S. government, the technology is not for sale in Canada.
In his report, McCaskill said Winnipeg's problems with gun crime are not similar to those found in cities like Oakland, Calif., where ShotSpotter sensors cover a six-square-mile area and recorded more than 2,800 gunshot alerts in their first three months.
"Shootings can, and do, occur over a wide area in different police districts (in Winnipeg)," McCaskill said, creating a "lack of predictability" that renders the technology less effective than it is for parts of the U.S. known for repeated shootings.
Typically, the technology is used hand-in-glove with surveillance cameras programmed to turn in the direction the gunshot sensors direct them to. Winnipeg is nearing the onset of a pilot project that will see surveillance cameras erected to watch some city streets in early 2009.
McCaskill noted that in 2007, dispatchers received 978 calls for service from people reporting that shots had been fired. The actual number of firearm-related events is unknown, given that not all calls for shots fired turn out to be real.
On the night before Canada Day, frustrated dispatchers were inundated with shots-fired calls that were actually fireworks being set off.
Coun. Gord Steeves, chairman of the committee that will hear McCaskill's recommendations this morning, said he still anticipates some discussion on the issue.
Steeves said he wonders if there aren't at least a few areas where ShotSpotter could be put to good use.
"I was thinking in the west of downtown area," Steeves said.