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LBPD Mgm't Concludes Gunfire Location Technology That Meets LBPD's Preliminary Objectives Doesn't Currently Exist


(Oct. 26, 2012, 6:40 a.m.) -- A little over a year after the City Council voted 6-3 to budget $350,000 in oil revenue (6-3, Schipske, Gabelich, Neal dissenting on other grounds) for a gunfire location system (used by a number of other jurisdictions), senior LBPD management has concluded that gunfire detection technology that meets LBPD's preliminary objectives doesn't currently exist.

The stunning management conclusion follows an Oct. 22 report in ("Where's That High Tech Gunfire Location System?") to which we invited LBPD management comment, LBPD Administration Bureau Chief Braden Phillips emailed us the following statement yesterday (Oct. 25):

"The City of Long Beach remains interested in acquiring a gunfire detection technology. City Management and the Police Department have engaged in exploratory discussions with various vendors who provide the technology to discuss goals and constraints that may factor into the City's decision to invest in a product. These meetings have been invaluable in the search for a system that will be compatible with the City’s sprawling urban environment. At this time, a gunfire detection technology that meets these preliminary objectives does not exist. Long Beach will continue to actively monitor this emerging technology for future use in the City."

A number of law enforcement agencies -- including a portion of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's jurisdiction -- have used the "Shotspotter" audio/computer triangulation system. Other firms reportedly also offer different or competing location systems.

As previously reported by, an Oct. 4, 2011 agendizing memo by Councilman Robert Garcia (joined by DeLong, O'Donnell and Andrews) included the following among a list of items (most of which had been recommended by city management) for spending roughly $18 million in oil revenue:

"Shotspotter System: $350,000. The Shotspotter gunshot detection system would be a valuable tool to assist the Police Department in responding to gun incidents and other types of crime."

The full list of items for oil revenue funding carried on a 6-3 vote, with Councilmembers Schipske, Neal and Gabelich dissenting after proposing an alternative package of uses that would avert some of the cuts to LBPD and LBFD backed by Mayor Foster and city management.

During the Oct. 2011 Council discussion, Councilwoman Schipske questioned whether the sum proposed by Garcia and city management would be sufficient to fund the proposed system. In questioning city management, Councilwoman Schipske extracted an admission that no funds had been included to fund the system's continuing use after the first year...and Chief McDonnell acknowledged it might end up being a one year pilot project.

Records subsequently sought and obtained by under the Public Records Act indicate that in the months that followed, issues apparently arose between LBPD management and representatives of the "ShotSpotter" firm, one of several firms that offer audio and computer technology to triangulate and locate gunfire. The documents indicate that the issues led to a high level meeting between LBPD command staff and ShotSpotter reps in early 2012.

However with nothing further coming forward, on April 24, 2012 asked LBPD Administration Bureau Chief Braden Phillips where things stood at that time. Chief Phillips indicated that LBPD management was exploring a number of options to see what type of gunfire location system would provide LBPD with the best deal for the dollars available.

On June 12, 2012, Vice Mayor Garcia held only the second meeting this year of the Public Safety Committee he chairs...and didn't agendize the issue of the gunfire location technology. However, Committee member Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske asked Administration Bureau Chief Phillips about it.

Chief Phillips replied that LBPD planned a demonstration/validation project of a gunfire-location technology that isn't the "ShotSpotter" system but a similar, cost effective technology that was deployed in Iraq. At the Committee's June 12 meeting, Administration Bureau Chief Phillips stated:

The ShotSpotter technology, the gunfire detection system, is as we said at the time, a very expensive technology for a fairly limited area. We are actively working with a group that has a similar technology that was deployed in Iraq and we're going to be doing a demonstration and validation project with them here shortly that we hope will provide a much more cost effective and even mobile solution that is superior to what we have been looking at in the past.

One of the challenges we have in terms of using that technology is for one year it costs us essentially the equivalent of a couple of police officers, and frankly, I think given the size of the area we would be looking at with ShotSpotter, it's probably going to be more effective for us to get a couple of cops.

On hearing this, Councilwoman Schipske replied that "we need to get that kind of report back to the full City Council because that money was appropriated for that use and perhaps we can kind of take a re-look at that."

Before moving on to other items, Committee chair Garcia also stated:

I just wanted to jump on something that Councilwoman Schipske said. I think that it's important that not just Shotspotter, but the money we set aside for the technology of the cameras, that certainly we need to ensure that that money is being spent on the things that were allocated for it, and if there needs to be a change or a recommendation, I think we can have that discussion, but I think we're kind of anxious as to where those items, and where those dollars are being spent on the technology side. And I think we'd like to have this resolved before we get back to having another discussion about this year's budget, I think ideally.

City Hall's FY12 budget year ended on Sept. 30, 2012. We are unaware of any further detailed public discussion by the full City Council of the gunfire location system it budgeted last year.

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