Suffolk County police officers gave a demonstration Thursday of the new ShotSpotter technology that they will use to detect gunshots in Huntington Station, one of five violence-prone communities where the new tool will be put to work.
The system detects when gunshots are fired as far as a mile away. Within 30 seconds both dispatchers and police officers on patrol are notified of its exact location, how many rounds and whether the shooter is moving or not.
“Gun violence is devastating to the vitality and health of cities and communities,” Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) said during the demonstration. “Its impact is deep and traumatic.”
To show how the program works, Officer Frank Cavalieri fired two rounds into a cargo van. Two computers were also on hand; a mobile data computer from a patrol car and another laptop logged in as a dispatcher. The alert came up on both computers less than a minute after the trigger was pulled.
“This faster, smarter and more diligent response capability for police with the ShotSpotter data gives our officers greater safety, and more ability to apprehend suspects and get more illegal guns off the streets,” Cooper said. Nassau County police have been using the technology in Uniondale and Roosevelt for two years.
The system was activated on Sunday in Huntington Station, Brentwood, North Amityville and Wyandanch. North Bellport was activated on Thursday. Police will not divulge the exact location of the devices, and said that there have been alerts since Sunday but no confirmed shootings.
“It’s certainly a welcomed technology for the residents of Huntington Station and other communities throughout Suffolk County,” Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said. “They can be rest assured that law enforcement will be responding to incidents of gunfire.”
Legis.-elect Dr. William Spencer (D-Centerport), who on Jan. 1 will take the seat held by Cooper, who is term-limited, was also on hand for the demonstration. “We will send a very clear message: if you fire a gun, you will get arrested,” he said.
Suffolk currently has a $1.2 million three-year subscription with ShotSpotter, which owns the devices. Cooper explained that by subscribing they were able to cover more communities than they would have if they had bought the equipment.
The new technology is being first unveiled following three triple shootings, two of the three targeted communities, in the past four weeks. Two brothers was gunned down and a third man was wounded in Brentwood on Sunday, one of three men shot in Central Islip last week died and three men were wounded in a Huntington Station shooting on Nov. 27. No arrests have been made those cases.