The New York City Police Department has announced it has started to use a gunshot detection system. The rollout of the technology in the nation’s largest police department comes seven years after the police department in Springfield, Massachusetts started using the system called ShotSpotter.
ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensors to pinpoint the location of gunfire and transmit the information within seconds to police dispatchers and to laptop computers in police cruisers. A map on the computer screen shows where the gun was fired and there is an audio recording of the shots.
The maker of ShotSpotter reports gunfire incidents declined by more than 20 percent in the 31 U.S. communities that had the technology deployed in both 2013 and 2014. In Springfield, the incidents of gunfire logged by the sensors was down 50 percent.
Police Sergeant John Delaney, the spokesman for the Springfield Police Department, said the technology is one factor that contributed to a 19 percent decline last year in the city’s crime rate.
"The technology does work and statistically it has been proven in Springfield," he said.
Delaney said an analysis of the data reveals most of the gunshots detected by the technology were not reported by a call to 911, and when police were called it was typically five minutes or more after the gunfire occurred.
" With this technology we respond within 15 seconds, often times arrested are made. It helps us tremendously with gun fire incidents," said Delaney.
The ShotSpotter data is also used to help direct police resources to proactively combat crime.
The gunshot detection technology covers roughly six square miles of Springfield’s total 33-square mile area.
New York City will use the sensors in parts of the Bronx and Brooklyn covering an area of 15 square miles, where there have been a high number of shootings, according to a report in the New York Times.
Gun violence in New York has increased by 11 percent this year compared to the same period last year according to the NYPD.
The pilot program using ShotSpotter in New York City will cost $1.5 million annually.
ShotSpotter was deployed initially in Springfield in 2008. Impressed by the results, a community organization raised money to expand the area covered by the system in 2013.
Jose Claudio of the New North Citizens Council said $125,000 was donated by business owners and apartment building property managers as part of a safe neighborhood initiative.
" I thought it was excellent for the business community to step up because of the effort we made in the neighborhood to knock down crime." said Claudio.
The ShotSpotter system is used in more than 80 U.S. communities including Boston, Worcester, Hartford and Rochester, NY., according to the company. The technology was used but then dropped in Troy, NY.