Published on WindyCitizen.com (http://chicagoexplainer.windycitizen.com)
BANG! Gunshot or Firework?
By Nelson Created 07/07/2009 - 13:37
Chicago River Weird firework gun gunshot independence day independence eve july 4th shot taste of chicago There has been controversy over possible gunshots  at the Independence Eve fireworks at the Taste of Chicago this past weekend. Amidst the explosions and movements of cops, some spectators say they heard gunfire. Can police tell the difference between the BANG! of gunshots and fireworks? It is very difficult for most police officers to make a judgment based on the sound alone, but there are other observable differences between gunfire and fireworks in a crowded setting, and there is improving technology designed to assist police as well. A Riverside police officer who has heard many gunshots said he “can't tell the difference, especially with lower caliber guns.” Here are two videos, one of gunfire and the other of a large firework, could you tell the difference?
The blogger and Chicago police officer, Second City Cop , said that some veterans who have become used to the sounds of both gunfire and fireworks have developed certain techniques. A gunshot has a flatter sound with fewer echoes, also, the pattern of multiple gunshots really sets it off from the more random explosions of fireworks. The police at the Taste fireworks display did likely act with a purpose, but not only because of suspicious sounds. The Riverside officer said watching the crowd is the best way to spot a disturbance. “Somebody sees a pistol and starts a stampede,” he said. That sort of panic doesn't normally happen when a firework goes off. The SkyWatch tower  in their surveillance arsenal, too. From 50 feet in the air, a single officer can watch the entire crowd and use infrared technology to see in the dark. Infrared can also pick up muzzle flashes  from guns. The officer perched in Sky Watch is able to radio down to ground troops, relay pertinent information to them and direct them. And if necessary, he can use a loudspeaker to give directions to the crowd.
Chicago also has technology  in high crime  areas of the city that can reportedly detect and distinguish gun shots from other, similar noises, like fireworks. Although, it is unlikely that these “gunshot detectors” were used at the Taste of Chicago this year. And, according to the Second City Cop , it really wouldn't have mattered since the current gunfire detection system still has bugs in it and dispatchers no longer relay the information it sends in to officers in the area. Perhaps next year an improved gunshot location detection technology  will be used to curb the apparently annual problem of shootings at the Taste of Chicago and during the lake front Independence Eve fireworks display.
Source URL: http://chicagoexplainer.windycitizen.com/2009/07/07/bang-gunshot-of-firework
Links:  http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicagosphere/2009/07/is-chicago-covering-up-independence-evegang-shooting.html  http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/  http://www.icxtacticalplatforms.com/products/skywatch/  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muzzle_flash  http://www.flickr.com/photos/39500903@N05/3666260531/  http://www.notbored.org/gunshot-detectors.html  http://www.windycitizen.com/crime_legal  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunshot_Location_Detection_System