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January 17, 2017

Fresno police are using technology and old-school police work to drive shooting numbers down, and they're starting the year on the doorsteps of homes where they are hearing gunfire.

Last year ended with a bang that Fresno police were not happy to report. Shootings were way up for a few reasons. Now, officers are showing up armed with warrants in the areas where too many shots are being fired.

A 24-hour recording system is the reason officers believe far more shootings are being reported. The calls are coming from the Shot Spotter technology that now covers more of Fresno than ever before.

"Southwest last year, we averaged a shooting every two days," Capt. Mark Salazar with the Fresno Police Department said. "Which is way too high."

The gunshot detection system covers six square miles of the city, mostly the southern portion. It leads officers right to the location where gunfire is coming from.

The technology has police very busy, following up in neighborhoods where silent nights are interrupted by scary sounds of gunfire.

"It's taking us right to the doorstep, practically," Salazar said. "And from there, we now have something to go on. We can go back and write a search warrant. We can go back and corroborate those casings in the street."

Gang shootings and gang violence are especially a problem in the area of Rev. Chester Riggins Avenue in southwest Fresno, but it's become so commonplace that many neighbors never even call 911.

Shot Spotter technology cuts out the middle man or worried neighbors who fear retaliation. It also cuts out the time it takes to relay information from a dispatcher to the officer.

"It's amazing how many shootings we respond to where a structure is hit, or a vehicle, or even a person is hit and no citizen has called the police department," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. "Yet, gunshot detection is what caused our officers to respond to that location."

In 2016, Fresno police responded to 439 shootings. A year prior, it was only 360. This year, the goal is to reduce shootings citywide to under 400. Officers are also planning to zero in on specific shooters who fire often without thinking about the anonymous callers who can't be intimidated.

"We are going to be doing daily, weekly operations for the whole year," Salazar said.

Officers are also checking in with those on probation or parole in areas where they have a lot of shootings. Last week, officers served 14 search warrants in southwest Fresno and found everything from stolen cars to ammunition.

ABC 30, Fresno