Chicago Resumes ShotSpotter Use After Dramatic Technology Improvement


Hoping to quell rising violence on the Chicago’s South and West sides, police again are turning to sensors to track down gunfire in some of the most crime-ridden communities, says the Chicago Tribune. Gunshot detection technology is being used in two 1.5-square-mile areas to pinpoint the location of gunshots, said Superintendent Garry McCarthy. The sensors sometimes give officers information before 911 calls are made. In the past decade, the city twice installed the devices but removed them because of high price tags and ineffectiveness. The technology has improved “dramatically,” he said.

The one-year contract for the ShotSpotter system costs about $200,000. Funds will come from drug forfeitures and other property seized by police. The manufacturer said the devices are in more than 70 cities, including Gary, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, up from 45 two years ago. After a shot is fired, three or more sensors detect the sound and calculate its location. Trained acoustics experts in a California review center confirm if the sound came from a weapon and not a car backfire, fireworks, or other loud noises. When the city previously used the sensors, the devices often identified other noises as gunfire, prompting the city to remove them, said Dennis Rosenbaum, a professor of criminology, law and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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