Talks with the ShotSpotter pilot’s gunshot detection technology in the Masten district are ongoing

ShotSpotter could not comment on details of their potential pilot with the City of Buffalo. Police believe the technology will improve response times.

BUFFALO, NY – The Masten District could soon be a testing ground for ShotSpotter as joint council member Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. and prominent members of the Buffalo Police Department renew their efforts to bring it into the queen city.

ShotSpotter is an acoustic detection system that the company says can identify and triangulate where gunshots are occurring. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said these types of incidents often go unreported because they depend on people calling 911.

“We don’t know how many calls haven’t been made about gunfire,” said Masten district council member Ulysees Wingo.

$250,000 for a full-fledged ShotSpotter system was cut from the city’s budget earlier this year after activists refused and concerns were raised about its effectiveness. Our partners at Investigate Post reported on several studies that found the service to be ineffective.

Although ShotSpotter isn’t being implemented citywide, Wingo told 2 On Your Side on Wednesday that talks to host a three- to six-month pilot project in his district are underway. This story was first reported by The Buffalo News.

The location of the “acoustic detectors” has yet to be determined, but will be based on existing Buffalo police firearms data.

“This will give us a more accurate assessment of the number of shots actually fired, or sounds that could be interpreted as a gunshot,” Wingo said.

Since the budget fallout, Wingo said he has continued to respond to requests from residents calling his office and speaking at neighborhood club meetings. He feels the decision to remove ShotSpotter from the city budget was unfair to those truly affected.

“How can you live in an area where there’s hardly any violent crime, where there’s no calls to gunfire, and then dictate to the city of Buffalo,” he said. declared.

The pilot project would cost the city nothing, according to Wingo, who was reluctant to set a timeline for implementation. Approval would likely require a Common Council vote.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia has been a strong supporter of the technology and told 2 On Your Side on Wednesday that any chance to improve police response times could mean life or death for many. victims.

ShotSpotter could not comment on details of their potential pilot with the city of Buffalo, but in a statement, it touted its technology was in use in more than 125 cities. This statement said in part:

“With a growing list of over 125 cities using ShotSpotter and a renewal rate of 98%, we are confident that our technology will help make communities safer by enabling faster and more accurate police response to gunshot incidents than the 911 to help save the lives of victims and find crucial evidence.

One of these cities already using this acoustic detection system is Syracuse.

“So we’ve had the technology for several years now,” Syracuse Police Lt. Matthew Malinowski said.

Malinowski told 2 On Your Side that ShotSpotter helped his department identify 379 shooting incidents from January through August 2021. This year, following an expansion of the system to a new part of Syracuse, it said during the same period that number rose to 511.

“There were a lot of shots being fired that we didn’t even know were happening and you wouldn’t know the location until you found casings. It really puts officers at street level,” Malinowski said.

Back in Buffalo, Antonio Robinson, who lives near Main Street in the Masten District, told 2 On Your Side that while he thinks the technology is a good idea, if the program goes beyond a pilot project, he does not want to see isolated neighborhoods.

“Crime happens everywhere,” Robinson said. “It’s a good idea to test it. Let’s see what happens, but hopefully that won’t be the only area.”

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