At NYPD headquarters Monday, March 16, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city is putting $1.5 million of taxpayer money toward a new high-tech pilot program that will help cops determine when and where gunshots are fired, even if no one reports them.
ShotSpotter, as the year-long program is called, works similar to a GPS triangulation system, using antennas and microphones to identify the location and direction the gunfire comes from. The information is then relayed to the real-time crime center at police headquarters, which then notifies cops in the field.
De Blasio said ShotSpotter operates faster than the current system, which requires people to call 911, who then contact police.
“What you get with ShotSpotter is real-time information so the police can respond so much faster,” de Blasio said. “It increases the chances of catching the shooter, and could prevent retaliatory shootings. The audio sensors detect gunfire, pinpoint the shots to literally within feet of where they have occurred, and that gives the police the ability to get to the scene.”
Eventually, 300 devices will be installed throughout the city, primarily in locations with the highest rate of shootings, the mayor said.
So far, sensors have gone live in certain parts of the Bronx and Brooklyn. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he plans to expand the program to other city locations once the pilot program ends.
De Blasio said the new technology “is going to send a message out over communities that if you fire a weapon, the police are going to know instantly, so there’s going to be a deterrent effect.”
Police expect the number of documented shootings to rise after the ShotSpotter devices are operational, because they will alert police to gunfire that usually goes unreported. When shots are detected, nearby cameras activate to review footage from moments earlier.
The ShotSpotter sensors are connected to thousands of cameras set up around the city as part of the Domain Awareness System, collecting a vast array of information used by investigators.
“Our officers will go into a situation with a much fuller picture of what they’re going to encounter,” de Blasio explained. “They won’t go in blind. They’ll have a lot of information as they approach the scene of a crime.”
Jesse Tisch, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of information and technology, said shots were recorded within an hour of ShotSpotter being activated in the Bronx last Monday.
“That shooting occurred at 1:12 hours at 228 West Tremont Avenue,” Tisch indicated.
“The shot count there was three. There were no 911 calls associated with it.”
The ShotSpotter system will be activated in certain Brooklyn areas next week.
The pilot program was set up in seven Bronx precincts and 10 Brooklyn precincts that have seen a spike in gun violence. On the basis of statistics from other cities where the system is already in use, 75 percent of shootings have been determined to be not reported to 911.
Bratton said that in the future, ShotSpotter will be able to identify the kind of gun fired and whether multiple shots are coming from different guns. He is a former member of ShotSpotter’s board of directors. He divested from the company to become NYPD commissioner in January 2014.
Some citizens are concerned about their privacy being violated as the Empire State turns more and more into its moniker.