By Lindsay Christ
The recent implementation of a new crime detection system in Nassau County known as ShotSpotter was celebrated at a press conference today.
ShotSpotter accurately detects, pinpoints and alerts officers to the locations of gunfire and other explosives.
“This new crime fighting tool utilizes new technology and makes it clear to people who own guns that we’re going to hear you if you shoot it off,” said Nassau County Executive Suozzi Tuesday with Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey and representatives from the Uniondale and Roosevelt communities.
The gunshot location system, which was paid for with asset forfeiture funds, went live in the Uniondale/Roosevelt area on July 23. When a gunshots ring out, the system’s sensor locate the gunshot’s point of origin to within 82 feet and records the number of shots fired and whether the shooter was stationary or moving. Within seconds, 911 dispatchers receive and the exact streets are identified on a GPS map.
In other cities where ShotSpotters is used, it has been credited with reducing gunfire rates by 60 to 80 percent and violent crimes by 40 percent. Shotspotter GLS is considered by many to be the world leader in gunshot location systems, and is used for public safety, homeland security and the military.
It has been used in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars to help military respond to snipers.
This allows for officers to respond quickly and provides evidence for post-crime analysis. Since it allows them to arrive at the scene of the crime more quickly, there is a higher chance that the shooter will still be there and that they will be able to restrain them.
Shotspotter has been installed in the Uniondale and Roosevelt communities because they are part of the “gun corridor of Nassau County,” explained Suozzi.
Two other communities that authorities identify as part of this corridor are the Villages of Hempstead and Freeport, but because they both have their own village police forces, ShotSpotter was not installed, said Mulvey.
At the press conference the department played a live recording of gunshots picked up last weekend, which resulted in four arrests and the seizing of two loaded firearms. Police arrived after the first gunshot was fired, and after hearing the second were able to detain four men fleeing in a car.
They also spoke of several instances in which the system had played a large role in helping them apprehend the perpetrators and quickly provide the victim with medical resources. During one specific instance, the police were able to arrive to the scene and take the victim to the hospital 3 ½ minutes before the first 911 call was dialed. During another shooting, police were on the scene three minutes before it was called in.
Officials admit there are still a few kinks that need to be worked out. So far, only 15 percent of the notifications have actually been gun shots.
One of those kinks is making sure the system is able to identify the difference between a gunshot, a car backfiring, fireworks and other loud noises. On Aug. 3, police responded to a house in Roosevelt after fireworks went off. However, while cops arrested a teen for unlawfully dealing with fireworks, they also discovered an antique firearm on him.
Suozzi and Mulvey both stressed that they are pleased with the results of the past 30 days and that the main goal of the Shotspotter initiative is to discourage people from shooting in the first place.
Officials think the system may be a deterrent. Before last weekend’s incident, a lull in shootings was reported and undercover cops were hearing from gang members that it is become well known that this technology is out there.
“We want everyone to know that if you squeeze the trigger, we’re already on our way,” Mulvey said.
On Tuesday night the police department planned to go out and test the system by firing in various locations throughout both communities to finalize the idea and product.