Police warn against firing shots into air to celebrate New Year

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- There are a lot of New Year's Eve traditions out there. But Milwaukee police say there are some that are better and safe than others.

Officials say they expect some people to fire off a few rounds as the clock strikes midnight.

"This is something that happens in cities throughout the country and throughout the world," said Lt. Mark Stanmeyer. "People decide that in the celebration of bringing in the new year they are going to go out onto their back porch and fire off their guns a few times."

Since 2011, Milwaukee has been using sensors to detect when gun shots are fired. The system is called "Shot Spotter." It can not only pinpoint where a gun goes off, but also uses that information to map where it's likely to happen again.

Lt. Stanmeyer also says the danger of blindly shooting into the air is real. A bullet shot into the air can travel as far as two miles -- and be deadly as it comes back down.

"It can get somebody seriously hurt, and if you get somebody seriously hurt you can go to jail for a very long time," said Lt. Stanmeyer.

If you are caught, police say you can be charged with a misdemeanor. If someone is injured, the charge could be elevated to a felony.