New NYC ShotSpotter Technology Detects Gunfire, Even When No One Calls 911

When 23 rounds of gunfire rang out in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn two weeks ago, no one called 911 -- but police were able to detect it with $1.5 million technology that's been rolled out in more than a dozen New York City neighborhoods.

The high-tech ShotSpotter helped authorities quickly track down shell casings from that shooting, police said. At a news conference Wednesday, Chief Robert Boyce played audio of the gunfire picked up by ShotSpotter.

"You're hearing it now. Can you imagine what it sounds like when you're living there?" he said. "It was a very dangerous weapon, a 9-millimeter fully automatic machine pistol."

Police have still not found the person who fired the gun.

"We canvass the building seeing if we can find witnesses who tell us more," Boyce said, describing how police officers followed up on the ShotSpotter report. "We looked outside, didn't see anyone running from the building. So we believe that person lives there or staying with someone."

Police pointed to two other cases where ShotSpotter technology helped authorities respond quickly: one more in Brownsville and another in East Flatbush.

After those shots in East Flatbush were fired, police were able to get video of the two suspects leaving the scene. Authorities are still working to identify them both.

"The good news going forward is we'll have a much more accurate picture of gun violence in the city," said Boyce.

But the technology's also highlighting another problem: In two weeks, ShotSpotter picked up 55 reports of gunfire but 911 was called only 12 times. Authorities are hoping that will change with the incorporation of the technology into police patrol and response.

The pilot program will be used for about a year, and authorities say in neighborhoods like Brownsville, the intention is to not only cut down on crime but to improve officer safety because precincts will have a better idea of how many officers to send to shootings.

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