Police officers blocked off Willowwood Drive and went door to door warning neighborhood residents before firing roughly three dozen or so times into what appeared to be sand or dirt in the bed of a dump truck.

Dayton police test ShotSpotter gunshot-detection system -- after a heads-up

The exercise was part of a new technology -- the ShotSpotter system -- aimed at helping police quickly identify the location of gunshots.

The ShotSpotter test took at least one neighborhood resident by surprise. 

"I was afraid," Sandra Como, a Willowwood Drive resident, said. “I didn't know what was going on. I thought something was going on, like SWAT or something. I was curious.” 

Como said it was scary hearing the gunshots, noting she hears gunshots in the neighborhood every now and then. 

She said she didn't know the test was going to be run on her street and said police did not knock at her door. 

She called the technology a good thing "to protect the neighborhood."

About 9:30 p.m., the Dayton Police Department tweeted, “the live fire testing for the ShotSpotter system is now completed”:

Bill Marvin, Five Oaks Neighborhood Association president, said he's optimistic about the technology. 

"Does it do what it says it does?" he asked rhetorically. "If it does what it says it does... that would be really good at warning those bastards that they need to stay out of the community and not shoot here because we're gonna get you." 

Marvin called it a step in the right direction and he endorses the ShotSpotter gunfire detection system.

EARLIER REPORT

Dayton will start testing a new technology in some parts of the city that is aimed at helping police quickly identify the location of gunshots.

Residents near North Main Street and the Salem Avenue corridor may hear gunfire Tuesday evening during a live-fire testing of the new ShotSpotter system.

The system is expected to go live later this month.

MORE: Dayton may use tech that listens for gunshots, pinpoints location

The testing will take place in three places that are blocked off from public access, and police staff will go door to door to notify neighbors that the shots are part of a test and not a real emergency, officials said.

“Citizen, officer and property safety are our first priority, and every precaution is being taken to have a successful live-fire test,” the city said. “There is no danger to the public, as no bullets will be shot into any open area.”

The ShotSpotter technology, which was approved for use by the city commission earlier this year, uses acoustic sensors to detect and locate gunshots to help police rapidly respond to shooting scenes to help victims, identify the shooters or witnesses and collect evidence.

“The system uses technology to locate, identify and then alert police to gunfire in the city of Dayton,” said Dayton police Lt. Jason Hall.

MORE: Teen crime, thefts and drugs top concerns for area police chiefs

More than 80 percent of gunshots are not reported to 911 in cities across the nation, which often means police never show up to collect forensic evidence that can help solve serious crimes, officials say.

Using audio sensors, ShotSpotter will monitor Dayton’s system around the clock to review potential gunfire sounds.

Company staff will listen to the sounds to verify if they are gunshots, and if confirmed, that information will be relayed to police.

The city approved a $205,000 contract with the California-based company in July.

ShotSpotter says it can narrow down the location of gunfire to within about 82 feet of the incident in the surveillance area.

ShotSpotter’s system in Dayton will cover about three square miles in the northern part of the city.

The North Main Street corridor has more gunshot-related calls than anywhere else in Dayton, officials say.

“We do have a significant amount of gunfire and gunfire that occurs in that area so this is a solution to try and address those issues,” Hall said.

Citizens should report gunfire whenever they hear it, even in the area covered by the ShotSpotter technology, Hall said.

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