« Back to News

Hazleton police seeking funds for gunshot-detecting cameras

May 04, 2016

HAZLETON — Police officials said Wednesday that they’re expecting to obtain federal funds for gunshot-detecting radar cameras in an effort to lower crime rates and speed up gun-related investigations in the city.

According to Police Chief Jerry Speziale, Hazleton officials have been working alongside local political leaders, including U.S. Sens. Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey, and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who have given them support to obtain grants that would allow the city to install the cameras, which have a history of use in larger metropolitan cities with high crime rates.

“We really do appreciate the support of our local legislatures in their continued support in keeping Hazleton city safe,” he said.

Speziale said the hidden cameras, which are placed on top of buildings and telephone poles for a panoramic view, use the ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection System which can detect shots fired within a 3.5-mile radius. The system also will alert officers via text message where the incident occurred and what kind of firearm fired the bullet.

According to the company’s literature, ShotSpotter systems are currently in use in New York City, Chicago and Miami, as well as in smaller cities such as Worcester, Massachusetts.

Speziale added that smaller cities like Hazleton are able to apply for up to $465,000 in grant money for the cameras, but “based on my thoughts, $426,000 (in grants) would be enough (to buy cameras) for the entire city.”

“This is an effort to continue keeping the city of Hazleton safe, and I firmly believe that with this equipment, the stories you hear about crime in Hazleton will be done,” Speziale said. “This will also speed up the investigation process for our department and allow us to provide swift justice for any individuals that are caught in these matters.”

Research published this year by the National Institute For Justice found that for a typical call reporting random gunfire in a large city like Detroit, the time between an officer receiving a call and that officer concluding an investigation on the scene is approximately 40 minutes on average. But with the use of ShotSpotter, investigations on average decreased to around 30 minutes in length, the research found.

Speziale expects to receive grant money and begin installing the equipment in October 2016.

Times Leader