Gunfire in The City staying below radar

New technology that detects within seconds when a gun is fired and where the shooter is located is revealing some “troubling trends,” according to city officials.

The actual number of gunshot incidents counted by ShotSpotter — a grid of networked microphones that pinpoints the location of a discharged gun — far outnumbers the amount of calls to police reporting the gunshots, according to Kevin Ryan, head of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

While specific numbers have yet to be released, Ryan told the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee on Monday that a preliminary analysis revealed “kind of a shocking trend that continues. … No person is picking up the phone and calling 911 and saying ‘Guess what? There’s someone firing multiple gunshots.’”

That city residents are ignoring gunshots is one of the reasons San Francisco purchased the ShotSpotter system and placed its microphones in two neighborhoods — the Bayview and the Western Addition — that have been plagued by homicides and violence.

“That was our greatest concern, whether it’s the Bayview, the Fillmore, parts of the Mission — that it was becoming a way of life, whether it was reported or not,” committee chairman Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.

Nonetheless, the ShotSpotter data is helping police move resources to high-crime areas, and instant information is improving police response times, Ryan said.

Crime-fighting technology was one of many solutions discussed during the meeting, which focused on The City’s homicide totals. In 2008, there have been 36 killings, including two on Sunday — more than the 32 counted during the same time frame in 2007, when San Francisco had a 10-year high of 98 homicides.

“We’ve got too many guns in San Francisco in the wrong hands,” Ryan said.

bbegin@examiner.com

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