Proponents of gunshot detection systems say they help save lives and catch criminals by automatically alerting first responders to the time and place of shootings faster than 911 calls.
But critics question the value of detection systems like ShotSpotter, which occasionally mistake car backfires or other booms for gunshots, saying they can lead to over-policing of neighborhoods where their audio sensors are installed.
Newark police and civilian officials are among the proponents, and on Sept. 7, the City Council approved expanding the city’s ShotSpotter system, voting unanimously to accept a $1M grant from the state Department of Law and Public Safety to install the technology in areas of the East and North wards. The city began using ShotSpotter in 2011.
“I think it’s an important tool for the police division to have in order to address any suspected shots fired or criminal activity in the neighborhood,” North Ward City Councilman Anibal Ramos said this week, rejecting concerns that ShotSpotter leads to over-policing. “If you look at our arrest numbers, they’re down. I don’t’ think the data supports the concerns.”
Newark is among 11 municipalities in New Jersey that have ShotSpotter, according to SoundThinking Inc., the Freemont, California-based company that offers the service on a contractual basis. The others are East Orange — the state’s first, in 2006 — Atlantic City, Camden, Asbury Park, Neptune, Paterson, Plainfield, Pleasantville, Salem City, and Trenton. Nationwide, more than 150 cities use ShotSpotter, SoundThinking says.
Catherine Adams, a spokesperson for Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Fragé, said ShotSpotter alerts “lead to police responses to shooting incidents as close to real-time and as close to the actual shooting location as possible,” without the need for 911 calls from the public.
Source : NJ