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Chicago police announce expanded technology to curb shootings

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Department commanders on Friday touted advances in technology that could help officers pinpoint gunfire instantly, part of their newest efforts to combat gun violence plaguing the city, reported Chicago Tribune (US).

Putting a new spin on gunshot detection technology police have used on and off for years, 150 cellphones will be distributed to officers in the Englewood and Harrison districts equipped with apps that deliver shooting and incident information in real time. Police also announced the expansion of the ShotSpotter system and predictive data methods in the Englewood and Harrison districts, two of the city's highest crime areas.

ShotSpotter now covers all portions of the Englewood and Harrison districts — 13.5 square miles, city officials said. Police also expanded the footprint of the Police Observation Device cameras by 25 percent to try to work better with ShotSpotter.

The goals, Emanuel and police commanders said, is to respond swiftly to shootings and use neighborhood data to target problem areas and thwart violent crime.
"Crime and violence presents a complex problem that has to be dealt with in complex ways," Emanuel said.

Emanuel and the Police Department have been under fire for a dramatic increase in homicides and shootings in Chicago, after 2016 ended with 783 homicides, the most since 1996, according to data collected by the Tribune. As of Friday afternoon, there had been 42 homicides, according to Police Department statistics. Friday's news conference came three days after President Donald Trump called out the city for its violence, saying in a tweet he would "send in the Feds!" if Chicago cannot fix the problem.

ShotSpotter captures audio of gunfire and attempts to pinpoint its location, officials said. The technology will be integrated with districts' computerized map-based prediction tools, which the mayor and police commanders said will help reduce shootings.

The new phones will be bought with donations from the Chicago Police Foundation and allow officers on patrol to receive alerts regarding possible gunfire, on the go. Police in the two districts have expanded the system to better record sounds throughout the neighborhoods.

"I believe this is the most advanced platform of its kind in the country," said Jonathan Lewin, the Police Department's deputy chief for information technologies.
In front of a horde of reporters and television cameras, Lewin gave Emanuel a tutorial on the upgraded system in a small room at the Englewood station, where flat screens on the walls showed live camera shots of street corners and a map of current incidents and calls.

"This does allow our police officers to be in the right place at the right time to prevent a shooting from ever happening," Emanuel said. Later, he said, "The technology is the right investment so our officers can be more efficient to disrupt something before it happens."

The mayor said the expanded technology is only one piece of the city's fight against the shootings and violence that have landed Chicago in the national spotlight.

"Technology does not replace, it's there to assist," the mayor said. "... It will help but it doesn't obviously replace all the other things we need to do."

At the news conference to unveil the technology, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson fell ill and the conference was ended abruptly. Before that happened, Johnson said the upgraded technology is part of the department's "data-driven enforcement," which compliments police community engagement efforts. ShotSpotter technology alerts officers to possible gunfire before 911 calls are made and allows detectives to pinpoint crime scenes for collection of bullets or shell casings.

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The NYPD introduced a new technology Monday that pinpoints the sound of gunfire to provide cops with real-time locations when bullets fly, reported New York Daily News (US).

The ShotSpotter system uses sensors to triangulate the place of a shooting and quickly alert police — even when nobody calls 911, officials said.
“It increases the chances of catching the shooter. It increases the chances of recovering the weapon. It increases the chances of stopping further crime,” Mayor de Blasio said in a press conference unveiling the pilot program at police headquarters.

The initiative launched at seven Bronx precincts Monday and will expand to 10 in Brooklyn, plus two housing commands, next week. It will cost $1.5 million a year to run in those areas.
Some 300 sensors have been installed across 15 square miles.

The system will be incorporated into the NYPD’s growing database compiling intel from surveillance cameras, license plate readers, radiation sensors and other sources to provide a fuller picture when cops respond to a shooting.

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