By Lauren DiSpirito

DENVER (CBS4) – In hopes of expanding the use of its ShotSpotter sound detection program, Denver police tested sensors in the Montbello neighborhood by firing live ammunition on Wednesday.

The program, which Denver police first began using last year, uses a network of acoustic sensors to pinpoint when and where gunfire occurs. Monitors then notify emergency dispatchers.

ShotSpotter testing in Montbello on Wednesday (credit: CBS)

ShotSpotter testing in Montbello on Wednesday (credit: CBS)

Before the system can be used, Denver police say the sensors must be tested. SWAT officers fire live rounds of different caliber bullets, using a series of traps to ensure safety. Because the system can detect differences in the sound of a blank round, or a firework, officers say they have to fire actual bullets to know the system is working.

The technology is already being used in parts of the city. Denver Police Lt. Aaron Sanchez says the sensors are placed in areas that statistically experience the most gunfire and has helped officers get to the scene of a shooting in under one minute.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“It’s helping us get to victims, and suspects on occasion,” Lt. Sanchez said. “Importantly, as well, is the evidence, and the casings that are left on scene.”

He says while officers still want people to call in reports of gunfire, the technology helps officers know more accurately where the shooting took place. Sometimes, he added, people who hear gun shots assume a neighbor already called police.

“When they do call in, generally they’re about a block and a half off of where the actual crime scene is,” Lt. Sanchez said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Alicia Periez lives in Montbello, near Falcon Park, where police tested sensors. She joined a group of people gathered to watch the testing. Periez says she’s heard gunfire in her neighborhood and believes the technology will help keep her safe.

“I feel like they should do it because you never know who is next,” Periez said.

Police have not revealed what the acoustic sensors look like, or where they’ve been placed, hoping to prevent tampering.

Lauren DiSpirito reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. She covers breaking news and feature stories along Colorado’s Front Range. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.


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