Written by H Wayne Wilson
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 00:00
The thick line that outlines the ShotSpotter coverage area on Peoria’s south side and part of the west bluff graphically shows the number of gunfire incidents. Image provided by the City of Peoria.
The City of Peoria is turning to advanced technology in hopes of reducing gun activity in certain neighborhoods. The City Council last week authorized the expenditure of $405-thousand to more effectively identify the location of gunshots on the city’s south side and part of the west bluff.
Over the next 90 days, SST, Inc. will install its ShotSpotter Flex Gunfire Location, Alert and Analysis Service. The company will place sensors on rooftops and poles at undisclosed locations away from traffic in a three square-mile area. The area was selected because of past concentrated gun activity. During a 30 month period ending in June of last year, there were 3,866 incidents of shots fired, 423 armed robberies and 24 murders with a firearm in the city. An analysis showed that 44% of the city’s shots-fired calls, 39% of the armed robberies, and 67% of the murders with firearms fell within these three square miles.
Using a method similar to triangulation, ShotSpotter will identify the location within 80 feet, whether the noise was indeed gunfire, the number of shots and the speed and direction if it was a drive-by shooting. Peoria Police Captain Mike Scally says patrol officers will be able respond to the scene more quickly to find evidence and witnesses. “That will mean more gun offenders will be removed from the streets, resulting in fewer robberies and burglaries in the future.” The manufacturer indicates the system can report 90% of gunfire incidents in less than 60 seconds.
ShotSpotter‘s maker points to benefits beyond timely and accurate notification:
• Disprove false reports of gunshots, like fireworks and vehicle backfires
• Refute false information provided by shooting suspects and victims
• Identify gunfire that otherwise goes unreported
• Increase officer safety
• Enable officers to locate gunshot victims more quickly
Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich says the program is an investment in the older areas of the city. “The council is taking these matters seriously by putting resources into these neighborhoods. This is another tool so police can be more effective in deterring crime.” Captain Scally stresses that ShotSpotter is not the single answer to gun crimes. “Citizens still need to call when they hear gunshots or witness other suspicious activity. Residents of the community are a part of our crime toolbox.”
The agreement is for three years of coverage in the identified area. Two-thirds of the cost of the system is due upon implementation. The Peoria City Council is funding that cost by transferring money from the capital fund balance and the police asset forfeiture account. The remaining one-third of the money is due at the start of the third year, and the council will budget for that amount over the next two years.
SST believes the designated area may actually see an increase in reports of gunfire in the first year because some citizens have become so conditioned to gun activity that they often do not report the incidents. But the Newark, California based company projects the area under surveillance will see 10% drops in reported gunfire year over year after the first year.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 September 2013 14:32