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Maloney, Police Chief And Mother Of Teen Killed Urge Funding For ShotSpotter

September 20, 2016

New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney stood Monday with the mother of an 18-year-old high school graduate who was fatally shot in the back on a Newburgh street at the end of August. They and others are urging federal funding to come through to install gunshot detection technology in the city.

Following the shooting death of 18-year-old Newburgh Free Academy graduate Keyshan Gayle, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney stood with the City of Newburgh Police Chief and Gayle’s mother to call for the U.S. Department of Justice to approve funding for ShotSpotter Technology, or SST. Maloney says the investment would provide four square miles of the City of Newburgh with audio sensors, which can pinpoint the location of the gunfire, detect the frequency of gunfire, and identify the type of firearm used. Similar technology is in place in cities like Springfield, Mass., where it is credited with helping authorities better respond to crime. Jennifer Bediako says her son was an innocent victim on a dark street just a few blocks from a school zone.

“I think it’s very important that the community comes together in a time like this and we all unite, regardless of skin, regardless of color, regardless of culture, regardless of heritage, anything. anywhere you come from, any background,” says Bediako. “In a situation like this, we can save anybody’s life, anybody. And now, my son, it’s too late for him but, through his death and our uniting as a community, this can be greater than anybody ever imagined. It’s not about me and my family. It’s about saving you and your children now.”

Here’s Maloney.

“We’re trying to do everything we know how to stop the next instance like this before it occurs  and to bring people to justice and to support law enforcement that has a very difficult job and needs better tools and better technology,” Maloney says.

City of Newburgh Police Chief Daniel Cameron believes the technology will help.

“ShotSpotter will tell us as it’s happening and the likelihood of apprehension if we’re notified of something as it’s occurring increases tremendously,” Cameron says. “Also, when the community realizes that people are getting apprehended or the police know exactly when a shot is being fired at the same time we’re hoping that, just like it has in other communities, it makes them second guess before they actually start firing the weapon. So I am convinced that ShotSpotter will be a benefit to the police department.”

Cameron says it will include 60 sensors that will cover the majority of Newburgh. Bediako, a New Windsor resident, says she has accomplished a lot since her son’s death about three weeks ago, including urging officials to install more security cameras and provide better street lighting.

“And I believe that it had to be my son that night in order for this change to happen today,” says Bediako. “And my promise is to not stop until every street is lit and there’s cameras on every corner. I can’t help but feel like the killer might have been caught that night if the cameras were working there because the camera wasn’t working.”

It’s also the mission of Schnekwa McNeil, whose son was best friends with Keyshon Gayle. The two were headed to the same college together.

“My name is Schnekwa McNeil and I did start an online petition to light up our city with key cameras, meaning key witnesses, key evidence and for Keyshan,” McNeil says. “It was very heartfelt for my family as well as the community and we’re not looking at this as a way to solve the problem of the crime, we’re looking at it as a way to deter it.”

So far, her change.org petition has more than 2,200 signatures. Police Chief Cameron says funds would become available in October and the technology would take about one month to set up should the grant come through. Once the grant runs out, a city leases the equipment at $30,000 per square mile per year. Officials hope to learn of the grant’s fate by the end of the month.

WAMC: Newburgh, NY