New Jersey police use gunfire detection technology

Posted on Jun 26, 2015

Police in New Jersey have introduced new gunfire detection technology that will allow officers to detect the origin point of shots fired. They hope it will allow faster response times to shooting incidents after being instantly notified when the system picks up on the sound of gunfire, part of an overall effort to enhance crime control.

Police in New jersey have introduced new gunfire detection technology"[The system] is another tool in our arsenal that's going to help us combat violent crime and hopefully maybe even save a life," Lt. Stephen Varn said to The Trentonian. "Any advantage that we can get is a plus for the police department."

To calibrate the system, Trenton police officers fired live rounds in different locations around the city while blocking off streets and keeping pedestrians out of harm's way. 

However, the system isn't new to Trenton police. Several years ago, an older version of the system was able to detect gunfire in an area that made up a square mile of the city. This new version of the gunfire detection platform not only covers a three-square-mile area, but is able to distinguish gunfire from other loud noises. This was previously a job left for Trenton dispatchers. 

"The system will text notifications to officers within 45 seconds."

A system is set up so that trained analysts at the company's headquarters will determine whether sounds picked up by sensors are gunshots or just firecrackers, backfiring cars or any other loud noise. Once a decision is made, information about the shooting will be sent to both TPD dispatch and police vehicles, where a red dot signifying where the gunshot originated will appear on a computer map enabling officers to respond appropriately. Officials claim the gunfire detection system will even show whether or not the shooter is on foot or in a vehicle, how many shots there may have been and if the shots came from an automatic weapon. Officers claim that this entire process will take place in fewer than 45 seconds after the shot is fired.

There are a total of 60 sensors throughout Trenton, which came from $300,000 in grant money the police department received. Training, maintenance and support over a two-year period were also included in the grant. 

Increasing law enforcement technologies use in other cities
In other parts of New Jersey and the Northeast, cities are either introducing the system or taking it even farther than the TPD.

Newark police are introducing gunfire detection technology - to ongoing training simulations - to prepare officers for active shooter scenarios, according to The Contra Costa Times. The training will use simulated firearms and gunfire to help officers improve in detecting the location of gunshots and following through with appropriate protocols so that they'll be ready if they're ever placed in a similar situation.

By October, the system will cover at least one third of New Haven, Connecticut, according to The New Haven Register. For the past six years, New Haven police have paid $50,000 a year, but now plan to triple their usage and will pay $220,000 a year, which Chief Dean Esserman says is actually a discounted price as a result of their long-time use of the gunshot detection system. 

Esserman told The Register that all of the senors should be in place at most three months after the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1. That is also when a new service will be available that sends notifications to police officers cellphones within 45 seconds of recognized shots.

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