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Los Angeles, ring in 2010 without a bang

New Year’s Eve revelers are reminded that firing a gun to celebrate is a felony, Los Angeles officials said Tuesday.

“Let’s not place others in harm’s way by shooting a firearm in the air,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference where he was joined by sheriff’s and police officials.

“It is not only illegal, it is just plain stupid.”

Last year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department saw a 19% increase in reports of shots fired during New Year’s festivities, and the Los Angeles Police Department reported a 10% jump. The increases came after nearly a decade of declines.

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LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore said last year’s uptick was a warning that the community needs to do more to stem the problem.

“We need your help in identifying the few individuals who . . . engage in this activity,” Moore said. “If you see or hear shots being fired, immediately call 911.”

He cautioned anyone hoping to fire a weapon in celebration to think twice.

“You will be arrested. You will go to jail. . . . This is state prison time,” he said. “It is disastrous for the innocent victims, and it will be disastrous for your future.”

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Sheriff Lee Baca said that in some areas his deputies would be aided by a so-called ShotSpotter system, which uses noise sensors to quickly track the location of gunfire.

“It is accurate within 10 feet,” Baca said.

“We will have that gunshot before a phone call can be made.”

richard.winton@latimes.com


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