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U.C. Berkeley Works with Peninsula City Police on Crime Fighting Techniques

The Palo Alto Police Department and crime analysts from the Boalt Hall Law School at U.C. Berkeley will work together to identify hotspots of crime based on the location and frequency of shots fired within the city.

The East Palo Alto Police Department will use a $300,000 federal grant to work with the University of California at Berkeley to study crime-fighting strategies using data from the city's gunshot location detection system, the chief of police said today.

Police Chief Ron Davis said the grant, from the U.S. Department of Justice, will be used by the department and crime analysts from the Boalt Hall Law School at Berkeley to identify hotspots of crime based on the location and frequency of shots fired within the city.

The data on gunshots will come from the city's ShotSpotter system, installed in East Palo Alto in 2009 that uses sound sensors to tell police the location of shots within about 10 feet and five to 10 seconds after each shot, Davis said.

Police will use the $300,000 in federal funds for a new project, called the Smart Police Initiative, which will identify areas where shots are fired and recommend law enforcement tactics and strategies to prevent future gun incidents.

"We're trying to take a look at the highest concentration of gunshots in the city, places where there are gunshots every week," Davis said.

Information from the gunshots can be used to find out what households tend to have the most shots fired so police can seek abatements, such as filing civil sanctions against the homeowners, he said.

The department wants to use the data on gunshots "to go beyond just responding to them, but to use it for prevention and intervention and analysis," Davis said.

East Palo Alto is the only city in the country with citywide coverage of the ShotSpotter detection system. Davis said.

The funds from the grant will be allocated to cover costs such as officer overtime and consulting fees from Berkeley, David said.

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