EAST PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — East Palo Alto police will be using extra patrols and the city’s ShotSpotter detection system to help track down people who shoot guns into the air to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

At a news conference today at East Palo Alto police headquarters, Detective Sgt. Jeff Liu stood next to a flat screen displaying an aerial map of the city and explained how the ShotSpotter system works.

Any gunshot or explosion shows up as a red dot on the map and pinpoints the location of the gunfire, Liu said. Multiple gunshots at one location show up as a red dot with an “m” in the middle.

“Anytime someone shoots a firearm, it locates exactly where it is,” Liu said.

The police department will have three times the amount of patrol officers out on the streets over the weekend, who will track down any instances of gunfire that show up on ShotSpotter or are reported by members of the community.

The department uses ShotSpotter records from the last 180 days as well as records from last New Year’s Eve to position officers in the city where clusters of gunfire are most likely to occur, Liu said.

He said the detection system had become a useful tool for law enforcement, decreasing response time and recording gunshots in real-time should evidence ever be needed in court.

KCBS’ Bob Butler Reports:

Liu couldn’t remember any instances in East Palo Alto where people had been injured by random gunfire on New Year’s Eve, but said he had heard of injuries caused by falling bullets in other communities and encouraged East Palo Alto residents to refrain from using firearms to celebrate the holiday.

“If you fire a bullet, it’s going to land somewhere,” Liu said.

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