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Atlantic City police are close to installing a system that will alert them when gunshots are heard — and even move connected cameras toward the sound.
The ShotSpotter audio-detection system arrived before the storm, but police are still working on getting approvals to put the sensors in a few places, police Chief Ernest Jubilee said.
“I think it’s just a matter of people understanding what the system does and what they’re trying to accomplish,” he said Friday.
Sensors set up in various locations are activated when a boom or bang goes off. Three or more sensors triangulate on the sound, which goes to a national operations center, a company spokeswoman previously explained. Specialists trained in acoustics and gunfire analyze the information, and it’s passed on to the municipality’s dispatch — if the sound is determined to be a gunshot and not something else, such as fireworks.
The process, according to the company, takes about 30 to 40 seconds.
The city will not say where the sensors are going as a precaution against possible attempts at tampering with them. They are made to blend in with their surroundings.
The system records how many shots were fired, time and location. ShotSpotter can also be integrated with existing cameras to give police audio and video information.
The plan is one of many the city has been working on to upgrade technology and make the city safer.
Atlantic City has seen a lot of violence this year. More than 50 people have been wounded by gunfire and another 17 have been killed, including 11 in shootings. The city is just one homicide away from its record of 18, set in 2006.
Jubilee said they are trying to increase police presence. Two directed patrols are concentrating on the more troubled areas and are deployed depending on where the violence seems to be happening.
Three officers officially joined the ranks Friday. Matthew Juniewicz, Victor Tweedle and Walter Hires graduated from the Camden County Police Academy. Hires won the academic award for highest grades, the vehicle operations award and the Thomas J. McDonnell Memorial Award for overall excellence, Sgt. Monica McMenamin said.
Eight other Atlantic City recruits are scheduled to graduate from Cape May County’s academy in January. There are also plans to hire 10 more officers with already-awarded grant money.
That would bring the current ranks to 328, just below the 330 minimum the city has promised the union. But that doesn’t take into account the unknown number of officers who will retire when they become eligible Feb. 1.
“We’re below 330, but we’re working to get that back up,” Jubilee said.
Police also are hoping the community will help. The new tip411 system allows information to be texted to police with all the identifiers removed from the text. People still have not been utilizing the system much, Jubilee and McMenamin said.
Anyone who has information on crimes in Atlantic City is urged to text 847411 beginning the text with ACPD.