Gunshot sensor technology gaining popularity in East Chicago

Posted on Jun 13, 2014

In East Chicago, the police department is celebrating its lowest crime record in the area in nearly 18 years because of the agencies move toward predictive and proactive police technology being used by officers, the Post Tribune reported.

One of the newest technologies being used in the police department is called ShotSpotter, which is a high-tech device that can sense and give computer analysis to agencies whenever there is gunfire near the sensors located throughout the city, the source reported.

The sensors can track gunfire within 25 meters, which immediately provides officers with detailed crime map information on where the shots were fired. The process is helping the East Chicago police solve more crimes and catch criminals at a faster rate.

Mark Becker, the Chief of police in East Chicago, explained that the crime map technology and analysis from Joseph Ferrandino, an assistant professor at Indiana University Northwest, have combined to help officers visualize the relationship of gunfire, criminal activity and location of police cruisers all on the same screen.

Having the ability to track crimes and the whereabouts of each patrolling cruisers is giving officers the chance to react much faster, the source cited.

"It's the greatest thing," Becker, said, according to the source.

Gary, Indiana, one of the first to use the technology

While the system has dramatically improved through the last few years, Gary, Indiana, had installed ShotSpotter back in 2004 and increased its sensor range in 2008 to spread throughout the whole city.

ShotSpotter's new cloud-based version enables East Chicago officers to retrieve the information through cloud technology to quickly see information about the shot location and analysis while on the streets, the Post Tribune reported.

Ralph Clark, CEO of ShotSpotter, explained the new cloud-based version is more effective and can give more detailed information about the shots fired on video screen, rather than having to relay the data through police radios.

Collecting more data from crime scenes

While the new police technology is certainly helping officers with crime control, it also is providing more data at the suspected shooting sights. According to the Post Tribune, officers can scan suspected shot areas and find bullet casings to match other crimes reported.

"The technology was originally invented to detect vibrations in earthquakes," Brian Hayden, a spokesperson for ShotSpotter, explained, according to NBC affiliate WMAQ. "We are able to divine whether there was one shooter, whether there was two shooters, whether there was (sic) one gunshot, two gunshots."

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