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UA to Conduct ShotSpotter Testing

August 04, 2017

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A proactive safety technology being implemented by The University of Alabama to detect and notify law enforcement of gunfire is scheduled for a live test Monday, Aug. 7, at 5 p.m.

Known as ShotSpotter, the system uses acoustic technology to notify local police departments precisely if, when and where gun incidents occur so officers can respond faster and more safely. The University of Alabama Police Department is deploying ShotSpotter devices in and around the campus area with assistance and support of the city of Tuscaloosa Police Department.

“This technology is a proactive measure that demonstrates our commitment to the safety and security of our community,” said John Hooks, UA chief of police. “Our use of ShotSpotter is similar to your use of a fire alarm. You don’t enter a building expecting it to catch on fire, but fire alarms are installed as an added safety measure to help protect you.”

The testing involves an officer firing 36 rounds into a bullet catcher at close range. The testing takes place at two different locations on the campus.

“The testing is safe and designed to register the audio sensors. We want the community to be aware in case they hear multiple shots being fired around this time.”

For safety reasons, testing areas will be cordoned off, and testing locations will not be disclosed. Area dispatchers will be notified in case they receive calls about the testing.

The technology uses audio sensors placed atop buildings to triangulate the sound of gunfire. To work most effectively, UA needs to place the sensors in strategic locations around the edge of the UA campus.

ShotSpotter can also determine the difference between similar sounds, like fireworks or an engine backfire, thus saving valuable resources. The system can help speed response times for police and emergency teams.

“The installation will be quick, performed by professionals and hardly noticeable when complete,” said Hooks. “The benefit is the security of knowing local police will be notified in real time if a shooting were ever to occur near the campus.”

University of Alabama