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Despite controversy, Bakersfield stands behind ShotSpotter technology

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Posted at 7:07 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 22:10:11-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A partnership exists between the Bakersfield Police Department and the company ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system that uses sensors to detect the sound of gunfire and alert law enforcement. But amid criticism nationwide, BPD says the technology has been critical in helping law enforcement after experiencing a record year of violence.

Now the city is committed to increasing police response and crime reporting here in Bakersfield.

City officials say the Bakersfield Police Department is currently paying more than $223,000 a year to use ShotSpotter. Since its implementation in 2020, BPD says ShotSpotter activations have led BPD to make 110 arrests and 65 gun seizures.

In April, 23ABC spoke to the BPD about the ShotSpotter detection system which is also used by many other law enforcement agencies across the country. But it's also facing its fair share of criticism, with detractors saying the technology wrongly targets underserved communities.

But Wednesday BPD Sgt. Robert pair gave 23ABC an update of ShotSpotter's assistance and says ShotSpotter is beneficial because it identifies areas of Bakersfield that have a disproportionate amount of gun violence and has allowed the department to hold those committing crimes accountable.

“What this system does is allows us to, as opposed to if we do get calls of someone shooting on so-and-so street, now this actually pinpoints the exact location of those shots fired so the community sees that we are engaged. We do care. We are going to investigate it. Another component, about it is it leads to the seizure of evidence and is used to hold those accountable shooting firearms whether at another person or up in the air or at houses or at kids, cars or animals.”

Sgt. Pair says in the past the department has found a significant amount of under-reporting of gunshots to law enforcement by residents and says this could be for many reasons whether it's fear or the assumption the police department won’t show up or do anything about it. But he says now the community is gaining trust because there has been an increase in the number of people reporting sounds of gunfire to law enforcement.

Coming up at 11 23ABC will have more on the areas of the city identified to utilize these ShotSpotter sensors, how officers are alerted and the city’s accomplishments since the partnership began.