McGinn proposes high-tech solution to Seattle gun violence

SEATTLE -- Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is pitching a high-tech solution to fighting crime, but the plan could become a casualty of the city's budget battles.

Gun crimes are up citywide this year. McGinn thinks a gunshot locator system could offer a quick fix to the problem, but not all city leaders are convinced.

The sound of gunfire has gotten more frequent in neighborhoods like Rainier Valley. Police and city leaders want solutions to the ever-growing gun problem, as do the people who live in work in the neighborhood.

Davie Hay sees plenty of gun crime outside her Rainier Valley donut shop.

"It's terrifying to know you can walk out the door and be in the mix of a drive-by shooting," she said.

McGinn has taken notice and is pushing a high-tech solution in his city budget proposal. His idea is to install 52 gunshot locator units that use microphones and cameras. When shots are fired, the system triangulates the sound to zero in on the location.

The cameras also snap crime scene photos while officers race to the scene.

"So we believe it's an important tool that can help the police respond quickly to gunshots fired in the city," McGinn said.

The plan is now in the hands of the City Council, where members are still studying its merits.

"You weigh back and forth," said Councilwoman Sally Clark. "Should I be spending that money on a new police recruit, should I invest it in this system?"

The network also raises civil liberty concerns and would be expensive. It would cost about $1 million up front and then hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to maintain it.

But in areas racked by gun violence, some people feel it's an investment worth the price.

"Having the technology in this neighborhood would definitely, hopefully lower the gun violence," Hay said.

The council is still deciding what programs to fund, and a decision about the gunshot locator system could come in two to three weeks.