Gunshot Detection Sensors Will Be Installed in Sparks
By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, December 7, 2022 3:59 am
SPARKS, Nev. (775 Times, NV Globe) – The Reno Gazette Journal stated that 33 homicides were recorded in the Reno-Sparks region in 2021, and 28 of those victims died from gunshot wounds.
The Sparks Police Department is now awaiting the installation of new equipment that they claim would allow police to respond to shootings more quickly.
“Across the nation, including within our region, we’ve seen a rise in violence that is related to firearms,” Sparks Police Chief Chris Crawforth. “Right now, we wait for 911 calls that could take three to four minutes for us to actually dispatch those responders, versus now we can have it within 60 seconds.”
Sparks City Council authorized a three-year deal with the monitoring business ShotSpotter using $850,000 in American Rescue Plan monies last week.
Crawford claims that using acoustic sensors and a combination of algorithms and human assessors, the business can determine the location of gunshots within 75 feet.
“We’ll be able to find evidence sooner and maybe even possibly find people leaving the area, which will definitely help our investigations, to increase our solvability.”
The sensors will cover the 89431 and 89434 zip codes, with an emphasis on the whole McCarran corridor and I-80, based on service requests.
The technology is employed in over a hundred places, including Las Vegas, and although some have decided to increase contracts with the corporation, others have chosen to do the opposite.
According to an Associated Press investigation, the system can misidentify sounds like fireworks or cars backfiring as gunshots, and “forensic reports prepared by ShotSpotter’s employees have been used in court to improperly claim that a defendant shot at police, or provide questionable counts of the number of shots allegedly fired by defendants.” The evidence has been thrown out by judges in a number of cases.”
When questioned if accuracy is a worry, Crawforth responded, “I’m not because that’s where we’re already going to have cops responding to the exact same sorts of things, we’ll simply get them there sooner.”
Racial justice and criminal reform groups in other cities believe the technology does not address the fundamental reason of rising crime and are concerned about its impact on black and brown neighborhoods.
Katya Abazajian, an activist with the Houston Abolitionists Collective, stated in an article for Houston Public Media, “these are communities that have a lot of difficulties that result in violence, but we don’t view this band-aid of a technology as solving any of those genuine challenges.”
Others argue that because of the possibility of false positives, the technology might lead authorities to the incorrect site, putting innocent people at risk.
Crawforth claims that this is all about data and people.
“We’re comparing our calls for service so that’s where it will be deployed,” he said. “We’re doing this to get to citizens sooner,” said Crawforth. “One thing that’s very common within gunshot-related calls is a lot of people don’t want to call so we have a lot of people that are injured or we’re not getting cases solved because we’re not getting to them and evidences are getting picked up in a car tire when leaving the scene so this will help us become more effective.”
In terms of privacy, he claims that the sensors will be installed in street lights and civic buildings and will only detect loud noises outdoors. Sensors are scheduled to be operational over the next six months.
SPD informed ShotSpotter that it is awaiting clearance from NVEnergy to place sensors in some street lights, which many states possess but Nevada does not.
Copyright 2022 775 Times, NV Globe. All rights reserved.
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