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West Palm Beach investing in ShotSpotter technology

Posted: 10:41 PM, Aug 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-15 04:58:17-04
West Palm Beach investing in ShotSpotter technology

West Palm Beach Police believe they have found technology that will help them fight crime across the city.

The city says that overall crime in West Palm Beach is down 20 to 25 percent in the last 10 years but violent crime is still an issue officers struggle with.

But thanks to years of planning and money from the city, Shotspotter just might help.

For eight years, Riviera Beach police have used ShotSpotter to fight crime from their "Sky 1" real-time crime center.

"It's a key tool that we use daily," said Officer Ossel Harrison, who works in the center manning the cameras and operating ShotSpotter.

He explained how it's helped the city reduce violent crime over the past two years.

"This gives the officers information, who can target the areas where we received some of the most shots fired incidents," he said. "So, that we could use that information to get the bad guys off the street."

And now, West Palm Beach police are building a real-time crime center of their own. The city set aside 1.2 million for this new real-time crime center, which will include ShotSpotter and license plate readers.

That money coming from the sale of the old city hall.

"We wanna make sure the city is safe and we want to use any tool and every tool available," said WPB Chief Sarah Mooney.

ShotSpotter can hear gunshots anywhere in the city, using several high tech microphones placed throughout neighborhoods.

"We're talking about fishing for these shooters with a spear, instead of a net," said Phil Dailly, southeast director for ShotSpotter.

National data shows 80 percent of gunshot incidents are never reported to 911.

"This tech does not replace citizens, they still need them to call 911 if they need us," said Mooney. "The citizens at the end of the day, are the ones that will help make this successful. We still need them to call us and get their input."

When people do call, there's an average seven-minute delay from when the crime occurred.

But chief Mooney says with ShotSpotter, West palm beach will be able to spot a gunshot within 45 seconds of it happening.

"This will let us narrow our focus on where we respond, how we respond, and what we will do when we get to the scene," said Mooney.

Police will use crime data place the microphones in strategic places in the city.

"It's going to be based on past incidences, wherever we've had the most concentration of this type of call so we're covering those areas first," said Mooney.

And Mooney hopes it will be the key to solving violent crime.

"I hope that they feel that we're here, we're trying to do the best that we can with the resources we have, and we're trying to obtain as many resources to help fight crime," said Mooney.

The entire center should be completed on the first of next year.