guns fireworks

The Philadelphia Police Department also plays ‘fireworks or gunshots?’ every year

Memorial Day just wrapped up, Fourth of July is around the corner and it’s officially that time of year when everyone hears fireworks and immediately calls the police because they sound like gunshots.

It’s very much a thing.

Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Ofc. Tanya Little tells Billy Penn that call volume skyrockets on Fourth of July because fireworks. But she says police will always respond to the calls because there’s no good way of knowing what’s a shot and what’s fire in the sky.

“[Police] have in the back of their minds that there’s a possibility that this could be fireworks, and it most likely is,” Little says. “But there’s always that one chance that it isn’t.”

Little adds that police also have high concern for shots being fired on days like Fourth of July because people may be using a gun for “celebratory shooting” or more sinister reasons — like using a gun for violence because they know sounds of fireworks could mask it.

She says the department would prefer if city residents called regarding loud noises that sound like gunshots instead of simply assuming they’re not, adding that she doesn’t have advice for people about how to tell the difference.

It’s possible technology could one day help police better determine where shots are being fired in the city. Council President Darrell Clarke said in March that he wants to bring to Philly a technology called ShotSpotter, which uses sensors and location-based detection to help police respond to shootings.

According to PhillyMag, ShotSpotter has been used before in Camden — where it apparently helped reduce gun violence — and New York City. Clarke told Newsworks that he’s hoping a hearing about a ShotSpotter pilot can take place soon so it can be approved before the next budget.

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