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Millville Police interested in ShotSpotter technology

May 06, 2016

MILLVILLE - One of the most common notations on daily police reports here is “shots fired unconfirmed,” a category that rises in good weather.

At least three incidents were reported in April and 10 in the second half of March. The figures don’t include shootings in which people were injured or killed.

Frustrated, the Police Department rush delivered a federal grant application for money to lease technology that promises to accurately record and locate gunfire in real time.

“It’s going to be a big deterrent,” police Chief Jody Farabella said Thursday. “We’ve studied where other cities have used this. Actually, in the beginning, it shows more shots fired because you’ll get information on it where sometimes it doesn’t get reported to us.

“Then, after a year or two, you’ll see the numbers drop,” Farabella said. “Because once shots are fired, officers will have it right on their computers, in their cars, in our dispatch, telling everybody at once where the shot actually is at.”

Farabella said the technology, specifically one known as ShotSpotter and marketed by SST Inc., got a long look a few years ago when money was available from the state. A decision was made to set up a chaplaincy program instead.

The application was prepared with help from Millville Housing Authority Executive Director Paul Dice. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is a source of funding, something SST Inc. points out to prospective customers.

Millville resident Tim Carty pressed the department to look again at ShotSpotter, Farabella said. Carty was allowed to sit in on a meeting with a sales representative, too.

Farabella said the system would provide coverage of most of Millville and uses Google maps to locate shots.

Lt. Lawrence Mulford compiled shots fired reports going back three years to create an incident map, and the data was used with the grant application.

The system is leased with a year-one cost of about $230,000 and a cost of about $170,000 in following years.

The idea came up at Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting where Carty lobbied for the system as he has at previous meetings.

Mayor Michael Santiago, a retired police officer, didn’t commit to the system but didn’t oppose it in a response to Carty.

“Although you want it to go through right now, we do have to apply for the grant,” Santiago said. “Because a grant is going to help alleviate some of the cost if in fact we’re going that way. I know the chief gave me a positive thought today. He said he thought it looks good.”

However, Commissioner David Ennis said he did not see a good reason to acquire the system.

“Really, there’s no need of recording, when somebody is dead, where this bullet came from,” Ennis said. “ If I’m going to spend that kind of money, I’d rather spend it on being pro-active and hiring some officers that can begin to control our streets.”

The Daily Journal