Newport News, Va., to Deploy Gunshot Detection Technology

Newport News Chief of Police Steve Drew and Mayor McKinley Price on Tuesday unveiled plans to use acoustic sensor technology from ShotSpotter that can detect gunfire and alert police within 60 seconds.

by Jessica Nolte, Daily Press / May 22, 2019
SST's Incident Review Center in Newark, Calif. SST

(TNS) — Beginning next month, Newport News, Va., police will know if shots are fired in parts of the city even if no one calls 911.

Newport News Chief of Police Steve Drew and Mayor McKinley Price on Tuesday unveiled plans to use technology that can detect gunfire and alert police within 60 seconds.

According to its website, Newport News will be the first public law enforcement agency to use it in Virginia to use the ShotSpotter technology.

The company will rely on acoustic sensors placed around what Drew called a “problem area.” Price refused to specify how many sensors will be used or where.

“All of us don’t know where they are — it’s their equipment,” Price said of the private company.

The technology hasn’t officially been rolled out, but Monday night there was a shooting in the area of Chestnut Avenue and 29th Street. Drew said during a briefing Tuesday a team from ShotSpotter identified the time and place of the shooting without talking to police.

“The detectives were even looking through the notes like, ‘Oh, yeah. They have really good information,’” Drew said.

The technology determines the location of gunfire and notifies a company center. The review center adds information, such as how many shooters are involved or whether an automatic weapon was used, before notifying dispatch centers and officers’ smartphones and patrol cars.

Officers will still be dispatched through the 911 call center, but they’ll have access to the reported location of the shots on their devices, police spokesman Brandon Maynard said.

The city is leasing the technology at a cost of about $275,000 per year for the next three years, Price said.

A local healthcare system that Price wouldn’t identify is contributing $50,000 per year for three years. The city will seek other business partnerships.

“Once the bad guys know and the neighborhoods know that we have this technology we hope to see fewer shots and therefore fewer accidents or people getting shot,” Price said.

©2019 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.