NYPD Testing System That Could Distinguish Gunfire From Fireworks

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference at police headquarters in New York, Monday, March 16, 2015. De Blasio and police commissioner Bill Bratton were talking about Shotspotter, a new technology that the NYPD is using to detect gunfire throughout New York City. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Photo: Seth Wenig/AP/Corbis

The New York City Police Department is set to put around 300 gunfire sensors around the Bronx and Brooklyn in an effort to shorten the response time to shootings. The sensors will only be spread across a 15-mile radius initially, as part of a pilot program targeting precincts that have seen an uptick in violence. ShotSpotter, the company behind this system, has been used in Washington, D.C. for more than a decade. New York City will be the biggest city to implement the sensor system.

This new gunshot detection system is going to do a world of good in going after the bad guys,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the announcement today. “When something happens, we’re going to know about it instantly.”

Between 2005 and 2013, the system recorded 39,000 shots in the nation’s capital, much more gunfire than was reported to the police. Because so many shooting incidents go unreported, ShotSpotter’s sensors will likely result in an increase in the number of shootings in the city, if only on paper. The system is also supposed to distinguish gunshots from fireworks — although it is often difficult. D.C.’s system logs far more instances of gunfire on the Fourth of July and New Year’s. 

165 shootings have been reported so far this year in New York, compared to 136 at this point in 2014.