Rockford, Ill., Leaders Approve Gunshot Locator Tech

The new ShotSpotter technology will cost the city $310,000.

by Jeff Kolkey, Rockford Register Star / October 3, 2017

(TNS) -- ROCKFORD, Ill. — Aldermen voted on Monday to spend $310,000 to have gunfire detection equipment installed over portions of the city prone to gun violence.

Although the system is capable of pinpointing the location of gunfire, it will only detect it in a relatively small area — four square miles of the 64.5-square-mile city.

Crime analysts chose areas of the city to install the equipment where traditionally there has been the most gun violence and shots fired incidents, Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea said.

"We chose the best two (square) miles on the west side, an the best two (square) miles on the east side," O'Shea said.

Last year, 160 people were shot in Rockford. There have been 102 shooting victims through August this year, putting the city on pace for fewer shootings than there were in 2016.

Manufactured by Newark, California-based ShotSpotter, it is expected to take several months for the detection equipment to be installed and for officers to be trained on how to use it. Fifteen to 20 sensors are installed in each square mile. It is designed to instantly notify officers of shootings in progress with real-time data sent to dispatch centers, patrol cars and smartphones.

Although ShotSpotter promises accuracy to within 82 feet of the gunfire, other jurisdictions that use it, say it is accurate to within 10 feet, O'Shea said.

Rockford isn't purchasing the gunfire detection hardware. Instead, the city is subscribing to a gunshot detection service. ShotSpotter will continue to own and maintain the equipment.

This is a one-year agreement. Subsequent years will cost the city $260,000 annually for the service. The first-year cost includes installation and training.

Rockford City Council had promised to improve police technology as part of this year's budget.

Information generated by ShotSpotter may aid police not only in finding the location of gunfire in real time, but also in gathering more evidence for prosecutions.

Because gunfire can echo off houses and buildings, people can't always accurately tell where gunfire is coming from when they report it to police. ShotSpotter is expected to provide near immediate confirmation of gunfire and point officers to within feet of its origin, O'Shea said.

"We believe this will put us on target for where the gunfire actually was," O'Shea said.

©2017 Rockford Register Star, Ill. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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