The New York Police Department has started using a detection system that pinpoints the location of gunfire and sends the information to law enforcement, the latest move to modernize the nation's largest police force, the New York Times reports. The system, called ShotSpotter, is used in several major cities. It works by installing sensors (basically, sensitive microphones) around an area to pick up sounds from the street that might be gunfire, and uses the sensors to locate where the shots were fired. It then sends the information to the Police Department.
As part of a pilot program, ShotSpotter sensors are being placed in seven precincts in the Bronx and 10 in Brooklyn, a total area of 15 square miles, where there have been a high number of shootings. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton stressed that ShotSpotter would help the relationship between the police and the communities where they work while also helping officers respond more quickly to shootings. Bratton said episodes in which guns are fired are vastly underreported. “On average, 75 percent of shots fired called in by ShotSpotter are never called into 911,” he said. ShotSpotter is used in cities including Washington, Boston, Oakland, San Francisco and Minneapolis, as well as smaller cities like East Chicago, In., says Ralph Clark, the company's chief executive.