Thursday, October 04, 2007

Color Me Skeptical

*** POST UPDATED 10/5/07 ***

WBZ-TV (Channel 4) in Boston is reporting that the Boston Police Department's recent test of the new "Shotspotter" system, designed to pinpoint the location of gunshots in the city, was a "success".

But, then again, so was the city's last gun buyback program, which explains why this expensive system is now needed to locate all the shots being fired from all those guns that were turned in.

Or something like that.

Hey, don't look at me. I just write 'em as I see 'em.

Anyway, watch the video from the WBZ story. In one part, it appears as though the police were testing the system by standing directly under one of the poles with a sensor mounted to it, and firing blanks at it from a 12-gauge shotgun.

A perfect simulation, given the recent rise in the number of disgruntled duck hunters shooting up the inner city neighborhoods in Boston.

Let's see it detect and locate the point of origin of 10 rounds of .22 rimfire ammo being shot out of the back window of a Honda Civic, as it hauls ass down Blue Hill Ave. Do that and I'll be a tad more convinced.

Also, you can expect the black market demand for firecrackers to skyrocket (no pun intended), as kids start looking for new ways to trip up the Shotspotter and send the cops out on wild goose chases.

I wonder (NOT) who Menino would then blame for that.

UPDATE (10/5/07): From this post at

On Wednesday, October 3, 2007, starting at approximately 9:15 p.m., the Boston Police Department (BPD) will conduct testing of the new ‘gunshot’ detection system known as Shotspotter.


The installation of the Shotspotter system is complete. At this time, testing is conducted to calibrate the system to its surroundings.

OK, so it seems as though they were merely calibrating the system, in which case, it would make perfect sense to fire several test rounds at each sensor location.

But, if that's the case, it's quite a stretch to declare the system a "success" at this point in time. Installing and calibrating a system of this nature is one thing. Testing the system to see if it actually works is another thing altogether.

From these reports, it appears that such testing has yet to take place.

Not that I'd expect such a minor technicality as that to keep Menino and the BPD brass from seeking out some quality camera time to claim yet another "victory" in their long string of feel-good, do-nothing crime-fighting initiatives.