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Tacoma, Wash., Police to Pilot ShotSpotter

City law enforcement will use an $800,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Administration to implement and evaluate three different technologies including ShotSpotter.

ShotSpotter technology is shown on a light pole in Austin, Texas.
ShotSpotter gun shot detection technology in use on a light pole in the Austin neighborhood on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)
Brian Cassella/TNS
(TNS) — Tacoma Police Department soon will implement a gunshot-detection system called ShotSpotter in hopes of reducing violent crimes in the city.

The Bureau of Justice Administration provided an $800,000 grant to the Police Department in order to assist officers with identifying, responding to and investigating gun crimes. The grant will fund the implementation and evaluation of three separate technologies, including the ShotSpotter pilot program, according to the Tacoma Police Department.

The aim of the ShotSpotter technology is to reduce police response times when a shooting happens and to provide precise locations of the incidents. When shots are fired, police will receive an alert within 60 seconds so they can get to the scene faster, according to SoundThinking, a company that owns ShotSpotter.

The pilot program allows the department to analyze how efficient ShotSpotter's data is before committing city funds, the Police Department said.

Tacoma Police Chief Avery Moore told the News Tribune that the department is excited for the opportunity to prove that ShotSpotter is good for the city. The pilot program will be used to gather data, and the department hopes to learn if the technology can be an effective investigative tool.

The first step is to gather information and to keep the community informed, Moore said.

There is no time line for when the program will be implemented or where ShotSpotter's technology would be installed in Tacoma.

ShotSpotter has faced some controversy in other jurisdictions, with critics saying that the technology is unreliable, costly and results in over-policing in communities of color, according to a CNN report.

Moore said that having the pilot program will test whether ShotSpotter's technology is reliable. He also said the technology would not target any communities of color or genders as it strictly detects gunfire.

ShotSpotter was featured on Wednesday at the Inaugural Multi-Family Workshop, an event that focused on public safety matters and addressing quality of life issues.

©2024 The News Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.