E.C. police plan to crack down on New Year's Eve gunfire

2013-12-26T17:17:00Z 2013-12-26T23:00:10Z E.C. police plan to crack down on New Year's Eve gunfireElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com
December 26, 2013 5:17 pm  • 

EAST CHICAGO | East Chicago residents who fire off guns during New Year's Eve might want to rethink their plans.

The East Chicago Police Department announced Thursday it will crack down on celebratory gunfire that typically happens on New Year's Eve.

According to a news release, the department plans to have additional patrols overnight. The department also will use ShotSpotter technology, which is able to track and pinpoint an exact location when shots are fired.

The department has used the technology since September. The technology was used last week to notify police about a fatal shooting in the 3400 block of Guthrie Street. The shooting resulted in the homicide of James Currie, 40, of East Chicago, police said. 

ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensors and audio analysis to track gunshots and loud explosive sounds, according to the company's website.

East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker said the department worked with Indiana University Northwest professor Joseph Ferrandino to map crime statistics and decide where to place the sensors in the city.

Becker said the information is sent to the company's headquarters, which can decipher if the noise came from a firecracker or a firearm. The information is then relayed within 60 seconds to dispatchers and officers on their mobile terminals. 

Becker said the technology gives police a 25-meter radius of the gunshot's origin. He said that information is helpful because it can be used in court and it can be used to recover bullet shell casings. 

The technology was paid for by the city, and Becker estimates it cost several hundred thousand dollars. 

The additional patrols will be part of the Region STOP Team. The team was created this fall is composed of law enforcement officials from Hammond, East Chicago, Gary and the Lake County Sheriff's Department. The goal of the team is to deter crime in Lake County.

Becker said it will be up to the prosecutor's office to decide on the charges people will face who fire off their guns into the air.

"We hope people finally realize that what goes up must go down," he said. "The consequences can be real and very tragic, and that's what we are trying to avoid." 

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