Sunday, October 22, 2006

Gunshot Sensors Are Giving D.C. Police Jump on Suspects -

Gunshot Sensors Are Giving D.C. Police Jump on Suspects -

I am surprised I have never heard of this technology. Considering the number of police/law enforcement trade shows I attend, and the absurdly high number of police magazines I read daily, you would think I would have heard about this before. But no, I read about it in the interesting choice of Washington Post and not somewhere more trade oriented. (It is going to be high up on my list of things to do at work tomorrow to pass this article along to every editor I know in law enforcement print.)

ShotSpotter is a small device that detects gunshots and alerts the police instantly. So before anyone can reach a phone and report the gunshot, the cops have the ability to be on their way already.

I can't decide what I think of this technology and business idea. As a former 911 operator, I can see the benefits of it. I have several memories of sitting in the call center watching the traffic cameras, and witnessing an accident. But before I could punch out a unit I had to sit and wait for someone to call it in. From the law enforcement side of things, I also think it is great. The response time is considerably faster, and the chance to catch the offender is much higher- particularly in a neighborhood where people may feel threatened by a gang to not call it in.

But as a citizen I have to ask, what next? Now the cops can respond without a 911 being placed. But when they get on scene and no one is willing to talk for fear of retribution by a gang, what is the next step? Installing hidden cameras along with the ShotSpotters?

This is incredible technology. It is sensitive enough to distinguish between cars backfiring, fireworks, and a gunshot. But is too much? Is it too close to Big Brother watching? I don't know. I'm not sure how I feel about this one.

1 comment:

  1. jules8:20 AM

    I could go either way on this one--both points have merit. However, my opinion is that once a gun has been shot on a city street, our police need every possbile way of apprehending the shooter.


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