City expands ShotSpotter program in Queens, Brooklyn
by Patrick Kearns
Jan 26, 2016 | 5564 views | 0 0 comments | 75 75 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Police Department is more than doubling the target zones of its ShotSpotter anti-crime program. The gunshot detection technology is coming to three new neighborhoods in Queens and one in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Bronx.

“New York is the safest big city in the nation, crime is down 5.8 percent over the last two years and we’re continuing to invest to drive it down further,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Shotspotter is providing a vital tool to the NYPD in taking on gun violence. This investment means all five boroughs will now see the crimefighting benefits of this innovative technology.”

Currently, the technology has been deployed in 25 precincts – eight in the Bronx, 10 in Brooklyn and seven in Manhattan – and covers a total of 24 square miles. With this expansion, it'll will now cover 60 square miles.

The additional 36 miles will target six new precincts and expand coverage in other precincts. Those are: Coney Island (60th Precinct), Staten Island (120th Precinct), Edenwald/Wakefield (47th Precinct), Rockaways (100th and 101st precincts), and Jamaica (105th Precinct).

Councilman Donovan Richards, who represents the precincts in the Rockaways, welcomed the additions $3 million in funding that de Blasio has allocated to grow this program into his district.

“All of those who think they own the streets will be caught very fast,” said Richards.

ShotSpotter uses technology to triangulate the location of a gunshot within 25 meters of where it was fired. It forwards a notification to an incident review center where a trained police operator reviews the audio files to determine if the sound was a gunshot or a similar noise like fireworks.

At the annual State of the NYPD address, Commissioner Bill Bratton pointed specifically to an incident in Brooklyn and how ShotSpotter helped police.

“On a Friday last December, there was a ShotSpotter alert for shots fired in the vicinity of 409 Saratoga Avenue in the 73rd Precinct,” Bratton said. “The precinct anti-crime team responded and found shell casings on the roof. They also saw individuals run into an apartment. A year ago, the job might have ended there.”

There were 1,672 ShotSpotter alerts in 2015, and of those alerts, 74 percent did not have 911 calls associated with them.

“Actually, since ShotSpotter jobs routinely report gunfire that no one calls 911 about, a year ago the job might not have happened at all,” said the commissioner. “But unlike a year ago, ShotSpotter did report the gunfire and, unlike a year ago, the officers had mobile digital.”

“They used their smartphones to check to see if anyone in the apartment had an active arrest warrant, and indeed a resident did,” Bratton continued. “As they spoke to her, they observed bullets on a table in the apartment.”

The three responding officers ultimately located two loaded handguns and arrested three individuals.

“These were good cops, who knew how to talk and had observation skills,” said Bratton. “The technology didn’t do the work, they did. But with this technology, good cops can be made into great cops, and great cops become even better.”

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