Was that a gunshot or a firework? What you’re hearing as numbers of both surge in Albany

Regional News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — While Albany Police deals with a surge in shootings, they have also been responding to an uptick in fireworks calls. How can you tell the difference if you hear a “boom” in your neighborhood?

Over a dozen people were shot in Albany within a span of 24 hours, and the number of fireworks calls to police is already eight times what it was for all of 2019.

“We received 29 firework related calls last year, and this year, we are already up to 232 calls. So more people are calling, and we believe that’s because more people are utilizing fireworks,” APD Public Information Officer told News10.

A number of police departments across the country use what’s called ShotSpotter technology. It combines sensors, artificial intelligence, and algorithms to detect gunshot sounds and alert police. Locally, it’s used in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where the police department has credited the technology with helping them solve crimes in the past. Troy Police used to have gunshot detection technology, but stopped using it several years ago.

While ShotSpotter is a system designed for law enforcement, an expert from the company tells News10 there are ways you can distinguish between gunshots and fireworks with the naked ear.

“First of all, a gunshot is much louder, typically, in terms of decibels, than fireworks,” Sam Klepper from ShotSpotter says.

Klepper explained that different types of fireworks yield different sounds. There is the kind that stay close to the ground and sound like a louder “snap crackle,” and there is the kind that shoots into the sky and can be seen for miles.

“The ones that are in the air are much louder, but they’re so much further away that they don’t sound as loud when you’re at the ground level,” Klepper explains, “and there’s more of an erratic cadence to gunfire, where the trigger puller isn’t doing it in a robotic way, versus fireworks, which have more of a standard repetition.”

You should call police if you hear a sound that could be gunshots or illegal fireworks.

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