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ShotSpotter Technology that Helps Police Track and Respond to Gunfire Coming to Staten Island Next Y

July 12, 2016

It's a crime fighting technology seen in neighborhoods all over the city — except on Staten Island. But now, a push to bring a tool that's meant to make it easier for police officers to combat gun violence. Borough Reporter Amanda Farinacci has the story.

It's easy to mistake the sound of fireworks for gunshots.

That's exactly what happened on Staten Island this fourth of July — when dozens of 9-1-1 calls came from residents worried about what they were hearing.

"The fact that the noise is very similar to gunshots reminds us that here on Staten Island we still don't have the technology known as the ShotSpotter," said Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon.

ShotSpotter is a gunfire tracking system.

The NYPD began using it last year in the Bronx and Brooklyn to pinpoint where bullets are coming from.

It has since been expanded to Manhattan and Queens.

Using acoustic sensors linked to a computer, the system is able to determine whether a sound is a gunshot, and pinpoint its location within a few yards.

"It gives a history of where these shots come from," said security expert Sal Sottile. "So there's a board for every shot that's fired, so they know, the police department knows exactly where they have to go. An incredible tool."

The system is linked to 8,000 NYPD cameras which can show cops in real time what is happening in the area of the sounds.

An incredible tool the Staten Island District Attorney hopes to bring to the borough sooner than later.

He sent a letter to the Mayor and the Police Commissioner this week, urging them to expand the program to Staten Island.

The NYPD says so far the technology has been placed in the city's busiest commands, the areas with the most shootings.

That's why Staten Island hasn't seen ShotSpotter so far, something that's about to change.

"We do have plans with the new budget to sometime in 2017, probably in March, to expand to all five boroughs," said NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill. "There are plans to expand it, not city-wide, just where it's needed."The NYPD says the borough's first shot spotter will be placed in the 120th precinct — covering the island's North shore.

McMahon says he'd also like to see it in the mid-island, in the 121st precinct.

He says his office will work with the police department to help determine the specific locations.

NY1TV - Staten Island, NY