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SoundThinking’s Commitment to New Year’s Eve Safety

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While many people across America celebrated New Year’s Eve, SoundThinking was hard at work, focusing on New Year’s Eve safety. Hidden amidst the explosion of fireworks is the sound of criminal gunfire—and this year there was a lot of it. Here’s a sample of gunfire we identified. (Yes, this is audio from a real incident, in a major city, and it involved a machine gun.)

This year, ShotSpotter, our sophisticated acoustic gunshot detection system, detected, located, and alerted police to nearly 24,000 incidents of real gunfire in over 150 cities. Much of this gunfire, which spikes around midnight, was likely “celebratory” (which is still dangerous and illegal) but it can make ordinary communities sound like war zones. Sadly, the same thing happens every Fourth of July, as well.

In addition to reporting a precise location, ShotSpotter also provides law enforcement with valuable tactical intelligence, such as the number of rounds in an incident, whether there are multiple shooters, and whether it involves full-auto gunfire. Notably, many of the incidents involved the discharge of 30 rounds. I guess these shooters figured if they were going to celebrate, they might as well empty the magazine. And a lot of it involved machine guns (which run through those 30 rounds in a second or two).

Of course, not all of that gunfire is celebratory. Some of it is homicidal. That’s why we put substantial effort and resources into reviewing during these holidays – our most challenging nights of the year. Whether intentionally or not, we know that many of those incidents result in a gunshot wound victim in need of life-saving aid.

Here are a few notable examples:

In a startling incident in Chicago, a suspect allegedly welcomed the new year by firing 80 rounds into the air using three firearms. SoundThinking’s technology detected the gunfire and alerted the Chicago police, who responded to the scene at the man’s residence. The police discovered spent shell casings, firearms, and a significant amount of suspected methamphetamine in his possession.

In another incident in Oakland, ShotSpotter alerted police to a shooting just blocks away from a preschool. The shooting, which occurred between two vehicles, involved an AC Transit bus. A stray bullet struck the bus, shattering glass and injuring the driver, who was subsequently treated for his injuries.

In a tragic start to the year, Fayetteville Police were alerted to the city’s first homicide in 2024 by SoundThinking’s system. The incident occurred in a residential neighborhood. Upon arrival, officers found a man fatally shot in a backyard. An investigation by police is underway.

In Greenville, Pitt County, a tragic incident unfolded where a teenager was fatally shot. SoundThinking’s ShotSpotter system played a crucial role in alerting the authorities to the shooting. Despite efforts to save the victim, who was found with a gunshot wound to the chest, he succumbed to his injuries. Police are searching for a fourteen-year-old suspect in the shooting.

In Rochester, N.Y., officers responded to an activation by SoundThinking’s ShotSpotter system. Upon arrival, they found a man in his 30s with a gunshot wound to the upper body. The victim was rushed to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Looking Ahead to 2024

At SoundThinking, we are proud to do “work that matters.” By detecting, locating, and reporting gunfire to police, we help them provide aid to victims, arrest offenders, and protect their communities. This includes a strong commitment to New Year’s Eve safety, but we also do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. But few occasions test our system and our people like New Year’s Eve. Yet again, we successfully sorted through the sounds of hundreds of thousands of fireworks to find and publish tens of thousands of gunfire alerts to law enforcement. We think this matters. And we’ll do it all again in 2024.

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Author Profile
Tom Chittum
Tom is SVP of Forensic Services at SoundThinking. His team supports the effective application of products...Show More
Tom is SVP of Forensic Services at SoundThinking. His team supports the effective application of products in investigations, forensics, and litigation. He has 27 years of federal law enforcement experience and was formerly the Chief Operating Officer of the ATF.Show Less

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