A shot is fired in Springfield, and in less than 30 seconds, police know about it. It’s all thanks to Shotspotter sensors located across the city.
“It goes off and the signal goes to California, it’s reviewed by a reviewer there, and it’s vetted,” Officer Sean Sullivan explained.
If the trained listener determines that it’s a real gunshot, the recording of the shots is sent to the officer laptops along with the location. That all happens about three or four minutes, on average, before the first 911 call is made.
“They start rolling there, they are catching people with guns in their hand,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan heads the Shotspotter program for the Springfield Police. He says arming an officer with immediate knowledge is critical for everyone’s safety. Sensors can tell if there’s more than one shooter, if they are moving, and even what kind of weapon they are using
“When you listen to this (Shotspotter recordings), it sounds like a machine gun, you are going to change your approach going in,” Sullivan said.
Using Bing maps, Shotspotter can zoom in to within 25 meters of where the shooter was standing. That way when officers start searching for victims, suspects, or evidence, they don’t waste time.
Sullivan says the department typically takes over a dozen guns of the street each year thanks to Shotspotter alone. That’s why the program has expanded to the north end.
“For the sake of the residents of the neighborhood, and to give a better tool for our police officers, this is the best thing that ever happened to our neighborhood,” Jose Claudio, of the New North Citizens’ Council, said.
Claudio helped organize the project. Both big and small businesses across the north end all came together and solely pitched in over $100,000 plus needed for the project.
For safety reasons, police won’t say how many sensors there are or where they are located but they do say the north end is totally covered.
“I want everybody to understand and in the north end, and in a 3 mile radius around the north end has Shotspotter, so if you shoot a gun, we are going to know,” Claudio said.
The data also helps police focus their efforts on troublesome streets so they can be ready when a shot is fired.
Shotspotter data is also being used more and more frequently in court. Meantime, Holyoke Police are also exploring ways they could acquire the technology for their city, as well.