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ShotSpotter technology could be coming to the City of Buffalo

Posted at 5:44 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 17:44:02-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia is pushing to bring the crime-fighting technology ShotSpotter to the city.

According to a 2016 study done by the Brookings Institute, 88% of gunfire incidents were not called into police.

"So when you think about it, when somebody gets shot, and no call goes out, or a call is greatly delayed, that's a person potentially laying on the sidewalk bleeding out," Commissioner Gramaglia said.

That's where ShotSpotter comes in. It's a technology used in more than 125 cities that can identify the precise location of shots fired within seconds.

"We are measuring to the millisecond to determine where each sensor was engaged. That's where we can get a precise location, a very accurate location, about the size of the room you're in, as to where the gunshot occurred," Ron Teachman, the Director of Public Safety Solutions at ShotSpotter, said.

If the machine alerts to possible gun fire, a recording of that sound is then sent to one of ShotSpotter's acoustic exports.

"They listen to the audio recording of that event, and in their trained ear, they can distinguish gun fire from the most common false positive, which is fireworks," Teachman said, "Our accuracy has been reviewed by an outside agency to be 0.5% on false positives, and 97% accurate as to notification."

Then, officers can be informed of gunfire roughly one minute after the shots initially sounded.

"If we can have our officers responding within a minute or two from the time the shots fired actually happened to the time the call was made, you have a greater likelihood of still getting an individual on scene who was the trigger puller, getting guns off the street, or often finding a victim of the shooting and we can get them aid that much faster," Commissioner Gramaglia said.

According to ShotSpotter, cities across the country are seeing success. ShotSpotter said there has been a 40% drop in gunshot incidents in Rochester. Omaha saw a 55% reduction in homicides in 2019.

In Pittsburgh, 40% of crimes were solved from alerts in ShotSpotter areas versus 10% in areas the technology was not present. There was a 296% increase in arrests in Denver since 2015.

That's why Commissioner Gramaglia said he is pushing to add this technology despite its high cost.

"We are finalizing what would be about 50% of the first years cost. It's a one time grant to help us get that technology. The city is looking at ways to finance it. It's an ongoing legacy cost. It's an annual cost. It's not cheap," Commissioner Gramaglia said.