Crime Beat

Your Neighbor is Trying to Kill You

Photo by kat wilcox

This may come as a bold claim and bold claims require bold evidence. If you reside within three of Albuquerque’s six area metro commands the evidence will be forthcoming shortly.

On July 17, 2020, the city of Albuquerque implemented a new technology to augment police in the reduction of gun crime called ShotSpotter. The 2019 legislative session approved the implementation of ShotSpotter devices and funded them to a price tag of at least $1.2 million dollars.

The devices work in tandem with the ShotSpotter analysis center to discriminate against sounds that may be like a gunshot such as a car backfiring or a firework. When the device picks up a sound that may be a gunshot, the sound is analyzed by ShotSpotter and if it is determined to be a gunshot, officers have information about the gunshots automatically dispatched to their phones or laptops within 60 seconds of the shots being fired.

This technology is admittedly expensive and the rough estimate to cover all 190 square miles of Albuquerque would be at a price tag of over $17 million.

There are six area commands in Albuquerque: North East, North West, Valley, Foothills, South East, and South West. The ShotSpotter devices have been implemented in the Valley, South East, and South West area commands as that is where the bulk of gun violence occurs.

The more disconcerting issue are the numbers reported by the city from the timeframe of ShotSpotter’s implementation to just four months after its start date in October 2020. The city of Albuquerque reported that ShotSpotter detected and identified more than 800 gunshots within these three area commands in just four months alone.

This means that in those three areas alone there were on average more than 200 gunshots fired within the city. This is a very disconcerting number on its face as it is already a crime to discharge a firearm within the confines of Bernalillo County with limited exception, so it is relatively safe to assume the law-abiding gun owner is not adding to these numbers.

While the city homicide rate sits at 47, as of May 17, 2021, we see that most of these homicides occur within the areas currently being monitored by ShotSpotter, and most predominantly in South East and Valley area commands.

This is not a repudiation of the technology or even the price tag, as more knowledge is always better than less knowledge. This is simply saying that when faced with raw data, one could see how their neighbor or neighborhood may be actively working against their personal safety. The final thought should be, how do we use this information to proactively prevent these numbers from rising as we are on track for more than 100 homicides and these analytical devices have not mitigated the occurrences of crime.

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