ShotSpotter technology picking up less gunfire in Oakland

OAKLAND,  Calif. (KTVU) -- There's new technological evidence that efforts to stem gun violence may be working in the East Bay city of Oakland, according to authorities.

ShotSpotter, a company that uses audio sensors to pinpoint gunshots, released new data Tuesday showing a median reduction in gunfire rates of 28.8 percent from 2013 to 2014 in cities that use the technology. In Oakland, the company's data shows a decline in gunfire incidents of 26.1 percent.

"We still have way too much gun violence," said Ralph Clark, CEO of ShotSpotter. "I think it's good news we're seeing declines. We like to believe we're a part of those declines, but again gun violence is very complicated and you'll never hear our company say we're solely responsible."

Captain Ersie Joyner of the Oakland Police Department said ShotSpotter technology often alerts officers in the field of an incident before 911 calls come in, which in turn gives investigators a jump start investigating gun crimes.

"With that response time, it makes it easier for us to respond and possibly capture someone involved in gunfire," said Capt. Joyner.

Joyner said violent crime in Oakland has declined over the past two years.

Some East Bay residents had questions about privacy.

"It's great if it can just hear gunshots," said Eric Havian, of Piedmont. "But if it can hear people's conversations and record things like ,that, then I would have some concerns about it."

Clark said ShotSpotter doesn't record conversations, and the snippet of recording provided to officers is only two to three seconds before and after the sound of gunfire. He added the recordings are kept only for a short time.

"They're designed to detect on impulsive noises, so to the extent which -- our sensors are installed 30-feet up in the air typically – whatever they can hear they can hear, but they forget about it within two to three days."

ShotSpotter data also shows the most dangerous hour of the week is Friday between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.