There’s no question that Chicago has a huge problem with gun violence. In 2016 there were 762 homicides in the city, more than New York City and Los Angeles had combined. There has been no downturn in violence as the calendar has turned to 2017, but police are hoping high-tech solutions may help curb the problem.
Last week, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson shared how police are now relying on a high tech system known as ShotSpotter to help identify where gunshots are occurring in real time so that officers can be dispatched to the area and hopefully catch the suspects. They are testing the systems in two neighborhoods that account for a large amount of gun violence, as more than a third of the homicides happened in one South Side and one West Side neighborhood.
ShotSpotter is a system that works by pinpointing gunfire location using a collection of sensors placed throughout the area. More than 100 sensors were installed in each of the two neighborhoods, and they have the capability of recording when a gunshot is fired. Based on which sensors are pinged and at what sound level they register, the system can pinpoint the expected location of the shot and relay this information to officers within minutes of the shooting.
“We are changing the crime-fighting culture within the Chicago Police Department,” Johnson said, adding that he thinks the technology will lead to more arrests and a reduction in the number of violent offenders on the street.
The system is off to an encouraging start, as police said the system recently alerted police to a shooting, and officers were able to detain a suspect and recover two spent shell casings in a yard within minutes of the shooting.
Additional Measures Taken
The sensors aren’t the only technological safety measure being taken. Police said they have also increased the number of remote-controlled cameras in the two neighborhoods, and the cameras are linked to two separate Strategic Decision Support Centers. The centers have a computer system that is given information about arrests, gang activity and 911 calls and can help predict where incidents of violence may erupt so police can be prepared and respond appropriately.
Johnson said Chicago police recovered more weapons and arrested more individuals for gun crimes in January than they did in January of 2016. He added that is ShotSpotter proves to be effective, they’ll branch out to other high-crime areas of the city.