Is it possible to forecast crime in the City of Milwaukee?

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — It's not a perfect science, but analysis of police data and some tech tools are allowing Milwaukee police officers to better forecast where they put their resources and perhaps stop crime before it happens.

Police say the ShotSpotter system helps them identify the sounds of gunfire. Noises in high crime areas are sifted through using the special software.

“The acoustic sensors are designed to detect gunfire,” said Lieutenant Chris Blaszak. “You see these very sharp, distinct spikes in sound.”

If the sounds captured by the system match the unique noise and signature of gunfire, squads are alerted. A pinpoint of the area shows up on officers’ computers within seconds.

From there, the data is recorded, allowing police to see where the concentration of shooting is taking place across the city and what time it's occurring.

Assuming criminal activity of the recent past will not be radically different than in the future, law enforcement can begin forecasting where the violence will occur and station patrols nearby.

The assumption isn't perfect and neither are the results, but during a FOX 6 ride along when shot spotter identified gunshots, the squad we were in was only blocks away. In a second report of gunfire, that was the case as well.

A study of 300 shots fired calls shows that only 14% of the time, people are making the call about the problem.

The ACLU is closely watching the technology to make sure the recorded sounds are not an invasion of privacy. The Milwaukee Police Department says the system only tracks noises that resemble the gunshot signature, saying if it tracked a broader scope it would be ineffective.