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LMPD launches new hidden tool in hopes of reducing spike in violent crime

June 01, 2017
WDRB: Louisville, KY

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- LMPD has a new weapon to fight gun crime, and it is hidden in parts of the city.

The new ShotSpotter system went live Thursday morning after weeks of testing and more than a year of planning. The gunshot detection system uses a series of microphone sensors to find the location of gunfire within seconds.

Maj. Josh Judah, the former head of the technical services unit who is now the Fourth Division commander, has been working on getting the system in place.

“Over the last week, we’ve had approximately 70 gunfire incidents captured by the system,” Judah said.

ShotSpotter currently covers six squares miles of the city. The project costs approximately $1.25 million over three years.

“It is a tool the officers can use on the computers that they already have in their cars," Judah said. "It’s so easy to use they can actually use it on their smartphones."

Dispatchers also receive notifications through the system.

LMPD does not disclose exactly where the sensors are. but Judah said some are located in sections of the Smoketown, Portland and Shawnee neighborhoods, among others.

He said property owners have been helpful giving permission to place sensors on their property.

“They want to help very badly to stop this kind of violence that we’re having,” Judah said.

The police department hopes it will help officers respond more quickly to gunfire.

“They will be arriving at the scene while gunpowder is still in the air, which is really gonna increase our chance of catching a bad guy fleeing from the scene, of finding a victim we wouldn’t have known about otherwise and of finding crucial evidence,” Judah said.

The system can provide detailed information including whether a shooter is using automatic weapons.

“The system is very good at distinguishing multiple shooters," Judah said. "It’s good at telling you how many rounds were fired, and on the investigator side, it can actually tell you the shot order."

Judah said 60 to 80 percent of gunfire incidents are never called in.

“Far too many of our community members live in neighborhoods where gunfire has become normal, fear keeps people from calling,” Judah said. “A thought that somebody else would have called it in.”

If the system sees results, LMPD hopes to expand coverage to more neighborhoods.

Judah said the sensors are very discrete and the department is not concerned about vandalism because they are so difficult to find.