Two years ago, the first ShotSpotter gunfire sensors were installed in Brooklyn and the Bronx amid great concern that 80 percent of the time, New Yorkers who heard shots didn’t bother calling 911. Since then, the rate has improved — with 34 percent of shootings detected by ShotSpotter also resulting in a 911 call last year, reports the New York Daily News. The rise comes as both arrests by police and complaints against officers are down substantially while the department adheres to a new policing philosophy that stresses a closer relationship between cops and the neighborhoods they serve.
Deputy Police Commissioner Jessica Tisch said the sea change is affecting the way New Yorkers think about the police department. “We know that based on neighborhood policing that the NYPD is making significant efforts to partner with the communities and we also know that cops are responding more to shots fired jobs because they know about more shots being fired,” Tisch said. “The numbers show more people are engaging with police.” Sgt. Joseph Freer said that even though the alerts are sent to cops’ smartphones and beat the average 911 caller by almost two minutes, the added value of an eyewitness or earwitness is immeasurable. In 2016, police responding to 2,399 ShotSpotter alerts recovered guns in 57 incidents. The weapons were either left at or near the scene or recovered during the execution of search warrants. Most of those incidents — 37 in all — were accompanied by 911 calls. However, 18 were not — meaning that without ShotSpotter those guns would still be on the street, Freer said.