ShotSpotter aimed to catch suspects

March 20, 2009 3:39:10 PM PDT
Wilmington police may soon have a new tool to track down shooting suspects in the city. It's called ShotSpotter.

ShotSpotter uses acoustic technology to pinpoint a gunshot and then trains a video surveillance camera on the location.

"The possibility of recording suspects fleeing would provide our investigators with instant information to follow up on," Chief Michael Szczerba of the Wilmington Police said.

The state of Delaware is getting a $250,000 grant to buy ShotSpotter.

That's enough to cover a one square mile section of Wilmington.

The city already has surveillance cameras like the one at 4th and Broom.

Earlier this week it picked up an assault on a homeless woman.

It was caught because a human monitor noticed it happening.

ShotSpotter would give the police an extra set of ears to go along with the camera's eye.

If there had been a gunshot, the monitors would know instantly which camera in the city to dial up.

It may still be awhile yet before these cameras are hooked up to ShotSpotter. The police chief says with all the belt tightening going on, he may not have the resources to monitor the system.

"We can have the technology in place, but you have to have the troops to monitor it and also the troops to be able to respond to it?and if I have the choice between the two, I want the troops on the street," Chief Szczerba said.

The city already spends $600,000 a year to monitor the surveillance cameras.

ShotSpotter would add to that cost.

And the police don't even know yet if it would be compatible with the existing cameras.

In the meantime, the city is riding a wave of good news on the crime front.

Shootings and murders are down 50-percent over the same period last year.

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