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"Two Brooklyn cops took a gun off the street with the help of the ShotSpotter system and a bit of confusion, police sources said Monday." (photo and caption courtesy

We’ve been deriding the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system for years. It’s a hugely expensive technological “fix” that only fixes politicians’ need to be seen to be “doing something” about “gun violence.” Which is why you’ll find it in urban areas where “strict” gun control does even less to reduce firearms-related crime. The number of stories we’ve encountered where ShotSpotter led to the apprehension of a criminal is precisely zero. Last year, Oakland pulled the plug on the system, which cost the city – wait for it – $264k per year. And here’s an excellent example of ShotSpotter follies . . .

Two Brooklyn cops took a gun off the street with the help of the new ShotSpotter system — but it wasn’t the one that set off the alert, police sources said Monday.

I’m sorry. I’ve got to jump in here. Note to the stoutly, resolutely, relentlessly anti-gun HA!

The drama unfolded after someone fired about six bullets at 12:33 a.m. Sunday, gunfire that a ShotSpotter sensor pinpointed to 980 Linden Blvd. in East Flatbush.

Plainclothes officers Dalsh Veve and Joel Crooms responded.

On nearby Church Ave. a group of teens tried to get into the officers’ unmarked vehicle, apparently thinking it was a livery car, sources said.

When the teens realized their error, they ran off.

Police chased and grabbed two 15-year-old boys. One was observed handing a gun to his friend, who tossed into a patch of bushes, sources said.

Police recovered the weapon, a five-shot .38 cal. Taurus that had four bullets in the chamber.

But that gun was not the one used in the shooting moments earlier, sources said. Police were not able to locate ballistics evidence tied to the 12:33 a.m. gunfire.

“But because of ShotSpotter, we were able to get to the scene quick and get another gun,” a police source said. “And even though there were 911 calls, they came after the job was initiated by ShotSpotter.”

I wonder if the fact that the New York City ShotSpotter system costs city taxpayers $1.5m per year and was highly touted by Mayor De Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton has anything to do with this transparent attempt to make the system the hero of this story of criminal malfeasance. And now, Ralph, you may comment.

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  1. Shot Spotter was indended for military use to protect bases overseas. It failed, so the company found a better marketing venue – dumb-ass mayors that happily spend never ending flow of taxpayer money. The results don’t matter – only the intentions, and a percentage into their personal bank accounts…

    • You’re spot on about the mayors being dumbasses, but that flow of taxpayer money, it turns out, is not never-ending. Just ask Detroit or Stockton, CA.

      • Why, of course it is never-ending! The bond-holders are pretty much forced to negotiate work-out funding if they ever expect to see any return of their principal. The State of a failing municipality will pitch in. Once that State is on its knees the Feds will bail them out. It is a long slow controlled flight into terrain.
        Yet, gradually, the remaining residents will learn that their only remaining recourse is self-sufficiency. A few will be led by visionaries such as the Chief of Detroit’s Police and the Sheriff of Milwaukee County.

  2. I see potential here. If they could just reverse the system, so that instead of tracking trajectory to pinpoint the source of bullets, it could track from the gun to where the bullets end up, it could save NYPD Internal Affairs a lot of time after a typical NYPD officer involved shooting.

  3. Suppose they used this amount of money to fund a team of cops to search for guns in the registered homes of individuals on probation and parole. No 4A issues to contend with here. Would certainly suppress the propensity for criminals to keep arms. If they can’t keep them in their homes it would inhibit them from bearing them.
    Unfortunately, there isn’t any opportunity for pay-to-play in such an idea as I’ve suggested. Moreover, this is conspicuously dangerous work. The police would be knocking on doors where they have ample reason to anticipate an armed response.
    All in all, the PC response to gun crime is to spend tax dollars where someone can make a profit and to let the first responders deal with armed criminals.

  4. There are far to many ways a criminal could take advantage of this system. They could have all law enforcement spun up in one area with some fire crackers in garbage cans, and a few 911 calls! Meanwhile in another location a real crime is committed.

    • No, four BULLETS in the chamber. Which might fit in some rifles but not likely in a Taurus .38. Unless they were really small bullets.

      I think if you want to get pedantic about it, a revolver has 5 or 6 chambers. But it’s obvious whoever wrote that doesn’t know what a chamber is, or a bullet.

      • The error might be as simple as an ‘s’ omitted at the end of the word “chamber”.
        As with the distinction between “clip” vs. “magazine”, I think we waste our time at the debating podium when we pedantically niggle about trivial distinctions in nomenclature.
        Let’s continue to niggle about the distinction between (full) auto vs. semi-auto where there is a marginally worthwhile distinction to be made. (A distinction that is becoming slimmer with the introduction of bump-fire and advanced fire control groups).

  5. Years back, I was leaving work (PC repair shop in a bad part of town) and my motorcycle was backfiring while I was trying to start it. Within 3 minutes, there were 2 patrol cars pulling up. Both asked about gunshots in the area (they mentioned Shotwatch triangulated them to my location). I replied “You mean this?”, hit the starter, bike backfired, they shook their heads and left. Had I been a shooter, they probably would have had me. The system might be successful with officers placed in better locations for faster responses, but in many cities, this simply isn’t possible.

    • I don’t see how the system would be any help in your example. If the police show up three minutes later, the shooter could be long gone. At the very least, even if the shooter was still standing around, responding police officers would not have probable cause to frisk anyone in the vicinity. As long as the shooter keeps his firearm hidden, refuses to submit to any searches or seizures, and exercises his/her Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate theirself, the police can do nothing and the system is useless.

    • So the lesson from your experience is, if you’re heading out to shoot somebody, use a vehicle with poorly-adjusted timing or a bad carburetor. Then, when the cops show up after you shoot your victim, offer up the backfiring engine as an explanation, and they’ll just leave.

      • Or, if you are in Cleveland, the cops will hear your car backfire, chase you down with every unit available, and break just about every department procedure regarding vehicle pursuits in the process while being told by superiors to stand down. Then unload over 130 rounds at you once you are cornered, turning you and your passenger into Swiss cheese.

  6. I think the operative part that answers the question “why” is right here:

    “The NYPD scrapped a similar pilot in 2011 for that reason. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton — who served on the board of the firm that patented ShotSpotter before he returned to head the NYPD last year — said the system “has improved significantly its accuracy over the years.”

    Surely that’s a tiny bit of a conflict of interest?

  7. The MADNESS of government and willingness to spend ungodly amounts of coin for an unkept promise. This being protecting citizens, when governments know they cannot.

  8. Jumping into an unmarked police car (with TWO plainclothes cops in it) thinking it’s a taxi… those two kids are going to go far in the criminal world.

  9. “his friend, who tossed into a patch of bushes”

    that’s a heck of a thing to do when running from the cops.

    • Seems like there’s always a patch of bushes around when some thug needs to lose a gun. Maybe the libs should outllaw bushes to help solve crimes.

    • I am very confused by the conversations link in that article. If it is activated by the shots how does it capture conversations pre shot

      And assuming it records at all times and just saves when triggered by a shot, how on earth can it isolate a conversation pre shot when it could have no directional sense


      • The system is basically just an analogue microphone that captures ALL SOUND. The sound is then digitized and the computer analyzes it for gunshot patterns and issues the appropriate alert. Of course the key here is this isn’t possible unless ALL SOUND is recorded. So what happens to all the “other” non gunshot sounds? If you think they simply toss it in to the digital dustbin then I have a bridge to sell you that I have full claim and title to….

  10. Let me see if I have this straight:

    -Useless ShotSpotter system sends police on wild goose chase.
    -Criminals voluntarily climb into the parked police car unbidden.

    Technology fails, stupidity saves the day.

  11. I have a word for those yoots who can’t tell the difference between a cop car and a taxi: Uber. Look it up, boys, on your stolen iPhones.

    • And now I want to apply as an Uber driver and use a Crown Vic to pick up rides. Oh, I wonder what kind of adventures would unfold with that!

      • A friend of mine has a police trade-in one that still has the cage in the back and the rear doors can only be opened from the outside. It would be interesting to see people’s reactions.

  12. Interesting mix of ammo, there. A couple of lead round noses, one FMJ ball and one flat nose. None of them new, based on the oxidation.

    I would love to know what happened between the factory and where they are today…

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