SPD: ShotSpotter program in testing, no expectations for sensor installation

Jes Sheldon | Staff Photographer

Planned ShotSpotter technology will monitor selected areas in Syracuse for gunshots. A Syracuse Police Department spokesman said there are no expectations for when the system will be in place.

UPDATED: Sept. 12, 2017 at 2:40 a.m.

The installation of a $300,000 gunshot detection sensor program is currently in progress for west and south areas of the city, a Syracuse Police Department spokesman said.

“The sensors are not operational right now,” said SPD Sgt. Richard Helterline. “We are waiting for ShotSpotter to finish their testing. I don’t know how long it will take.”

Syracuse Common Councilors in March unanimously approved $300,000 to fund the installation of ShotSpotter gunshot sensors in the city.

The company’s technology will start monitoring Syracuse streets as soon as the new program launches. Helterline said ShotSpotter sensors will help police target investigations to more specific locations.

ShotSpotter sensors will work in coordination with other security cameras installed throughout the city, Helterline said.

“We do have the general idea but we will not be releasing the specific information,” Helterline said on the location of ShotSpotter sensors. 

ShotSpotter will alert SPD officers to gunshots in a specific area of the city. The program is currently used by 90 United States municipalities, according to the company.

Each sensor indicates the time and location of gunshots. Additional data including an audio snippet also details the number of shots fired.

“This data is first filtered by sophisticated machine algorithms that are then further qualified by an expertly trained and staffed 24×7 Incident Review Center at ShotSpotter to insure the events are in fact gunfire,” said Ralph Clark, CEO of ShotSpotter, in an email.

“This process typically takes not more than 45 seconds between the actual shooting and the digital alert popping onto the screen of a computer in the 911 Call Center,” Clark said.

Sensor information will alert police officers on their phones as well as patrol cars.

ShotSpotter also gives police an idea about the type of gunfire. According to ShotSpotter, this information could ensure the safety of officers and residents.

“It will identify the location and time … (rather) than having to wait up for the individual to call up and say that ‘I heard some shots over here,’ and somebody else from another block away to call and say, ‘I heard some shots here,’” said Steven Thompson, an at-large Syracuse Common Councilor.

Last year, Syracuse saw its highest number of homicides on record after 31 people were killed.

This story has been updated with appropriate style. 


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