It’s the Shotspotter system. And it’s been expanded into the city’s North End, thanks to the people who live and work in that neighborhood. Shotspotters are located all across the city. They’re sensors that listen for any loud, sudden noise, namely gunshots. A computer takes the signal from the sensors and then combines it, to get an exact position of where the shot was fired. The information goes to the police dispatcher and the mobile computers in each cruiser. It takes only 10 to 15 seconds. Springfield Police Officer Sean Sullivan heads up the Shotspotter program. He says, “With the Shotspotter system, we’re getting the activation and we have officers on the scene in just minutes. It’s giving us an edge in trying to catch the person who has the gun and getting them off the street.”
Sullivan says since it was put into place in 2008, Shotspotter has led to an average of 14 arrests a year. But more importantly, it’s taken 14 more guns off the street. Springfield Police Commissioner William Fitchet says it’s an important tool in dealing with gun violence in tight economic times. “In times of budget constraints, we try to use technology to make up for manpower. It’s not the perfect answer, but it’s another tool that police departments can use and it’s an important tool, it’s ever changing”, says Fitchet.
And now parts of the Springfield’s North End are protected by Shotspotter. The New North Citizens Council went to neighborhood businesses to raise money to install the system. In four short months, it raised 120 thousand dollars to fund Shotspotter for three years. Jose Claudio, the citizens council community development director says that’s bringing people back to the North End to live and open new businesses. He adds, “They see the changes, they see things working and that’s key for the city of Springfield.”
In fact, Claudio says crime is down 68% in some parts of the north end, something he credits to Shotspotter.