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Common Council approves $300,000 for installation of ShotSpotter in Syracuse

Riley Bunch | Staff Photographer

ShotSpotter is a series of sensors used by police that are able to track, record and monitor gunshots in a particular area. The shots are recorded and transferred to police in the form of coordinates to indicate the precise location of a shot.

Amid a time of high crime rates in the city of Syracuse, and after a year where the city saw its highest number of homicides on record, Syracuse will likely soon have ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection sensor.

ShotSpotter is a series of sensors used by police that are able to track, record and monitor gunshots in a particular area. The shots are recorded and transferred to police in the form of coordinates to indicate the precise location of a shot. The program will give the Syracuse Police Department more accurate data regarding the number of gun-related incidents in the city.

The Common Council recently approved the program, which would cost up to $300,000, in a unanimous decision.

SPD Sgt. Richard Helterline said the city doesn’t have the system yet and that SPD doesn’t yet know when the sensors will be installed.

“There has been no determination as to where it will be placed within the city, other than an area with a high volume of shots-fired calls,” Helterline added.

Syracuse will install between 45-60 sensors within a three-square mile radius in the city. The hope is the sensors will be installed as early as this spring. An audio file will be included when a shot is recorded through the system.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner during her State of the City address in January said April is the targeted time for the implementation of the program in an area with a high volume of gun violence.

According to ShotSpotter, for every homicide committed with a gun, there are more than 100 gunfire incidents. With ShotSpotter’s technology, police have access to real-time incidents within a timeframe allowing them to act quickly in an emergency situation, according to ShotSpotter’s website.

ShotSpotter also claims the system covers 250 times the area of the typical point protection sensor. The company has also branched into other ways of securing areas such as schools and college campuses by utilizing the immediate technology, per the website.

ShotSpotter is currently used in several cities across the United States, including in New York City, Chicago, Denver and Miami.

The ShotSpotter website showcases testimonials from several police chiefs around the country encouraging the use of ShotSpotter.

“Within 30 to 60 seconds, the information is released to a dispatcher. This is so accurate that the other night, ShotSpotter stated gunfire was located next to a tree in front of a certain house. The program can tell you the direction of a car based on the sensors,” Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte said in one testimonial.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said in another testimonial that his department uses ShotSpotter not only for tracking gunfire, but also as a form of analyzing gunfire patterns.

Additionally, Milwaukee Police Captain David Salazar said in a separate testimonial that ShotSpotter has improved police and community relations in Milwaukee.

“Sometimes a community feels like police don’t care about them or certain parts of the city,” Salazar said. “This technology alerts us about things that aren’t necessarily reported … so we’re showing up and now the community knows we do care.”

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