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P’ville OKs ShotSpotter grant application

April 20, 2016

PLEASANTVILLE — In a push to curb gunfire and violence, police are seeking federal funds for a ShotSpotter gunshot-audio detection system.

Police Chief Sean Riggin said the system would have helped last week when a bullet entered a home on Franklin Boulevard and struck Olga Ceron, 48, in the foot while she held her 8-month-old grandson, David.

Riggin said it took police 20 minutes after the 911 calls to find the spot where the bullets were fired.

"If we had the ShotSpotter system, it would have told us immediately where exactly the shots were fired," Riggin said.

City Council on Monday approved the Police Department's request to submit a grant application to the U.S. Department of Justice Technology Innovation for Public Safety (TIPS) grant program. Riggin said about 100 hours were spent preparing the proposal.

Riggin said funding would help with the $560,000 cost of the ShotSpotter system for three years.

ShotSpotter uses sensors to triangulate sounds and determine whether they are gunshots or some other noise and then alerts officers to the location of the gunshots.

Pleasantville saw five shooting homicides last year. And since January 2015, there have been 126 shots-fired incidents and shootings in the city, Capt. Matthew Hartman said. There have been 25 shots-fired incidents and shootings for 2016, Hartman said.

ShotSpotter is a necessary evil and it's the technology Pleasantville needs to make the city safer, Mayor Jesse Tweedle said.

"And I've never seen anyone with a passion to get ShotSpotter more than Chief Sean Riggin. He's obsessed with it," Tweedle said.

Police have been working for about a year to bring the system to the city after the Atlantic City Police Department added it in May 2013.

"Pleasantville and Atlantic City share a common criminal operating environment, and for Pleasantville to not have ShotSpotter technology and Atlantic City does, it creates an intelligence gap for authorities to accurately assess the total operating criminal environment in this area," Riggin said.

Riggin said most of the shootings in Atlantic County occur in or are driven by events in Pleasantville or Atlantic City.

"And we need to be able to track all of those shootings so we have an actual picture of what's really going on and not just a picture of what we think is going on," Riggin said.

Press Of Atlantic City