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City Council Preview: ShotSpotter, SkyCop investment tops $1 million

August 22, 2016

In January, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s administration passed a $650,000 allocation in the Police Services FY2017 budget for “ShotSpotter Technology.”

ShotSpotter was created by SST Inc., a privately-held company founded in 1996 in Newark, California.

According to SST Inc., ShotSpotter is gunshot detection, acoustic surveillance technology that uses sophisticated sensors to detect, locate and alert law enforcement agencies of illegal gunfire incidents in real time.

Jim Harvey, (now retired) deputy chief of information technology for the Memphis Police Department, published an inquiry for feedback on ShotSpotter “both good and bad” on professional networking site LinkedIn on June 2.

MPD is looking at deploying ShotSpotter in a five-square mile area where shots-fired calls are prevalent in the city, Harvey said.

Harvey went on to express his skepticism in ShotSpotter’s results and return on investment.

“The system is very expensive and can’t be moved without great expense, Harvey said. “Why would a department go this route rather than buying an array of gunshot recognition cameras.”

MPD’s Real Time Crime Center is already utilizing gunshot recognition cameras that can pan, tilt and zoom to an area where a gun has been fired, allowing MPD to capture video of the shooter.

The ShotSpotter discussion was added to the council committee agenda by Councilman Berlin Boyd, who has invited SST Inc. to present and answer questions about the gunshot detection technology.

A company representative will also be in town meeting with MPD officials at the Real Time Crime Center.

The $650,000 allocation would put the city’s investment in crime prevention technolog y over the $1 million mark when added to the $492,000 allocation for “ SkyCop cameras fees for neighborhoods.”

Speaking of SkyCop Inc., the committee schedule also includes two more individuals buying and donating surveillance camera systems for their neighborhoods.

Brett Kyle is following an East Memphis trend, putting up nearly $20,940 for two SkyCop camera solutions on Saint Nick Drive, and Charles Boyd is buying and donating one SkyCop camera solution at $5,763 for Lions Gate Drive in South Memphis.

Biz Journals: Memphis