With the recent layoffs to the police and fire department, residents of Newburgh are concerned over the future of ShotSpotter. Although it is too late to include funding for ShotSpotter in the current 2020 budget, the City of Newburgh Police Department is still looking at other sources of funding to save the technology.
ShotSpotter is a gunshot detection technology that uses microphones to detect the location of gunfire. After gunfire is detected, the police department is called.
Including Newburgh, the technology serves more than 100 cities. ShotSpotter costs the city around $195,000 a year. Leading up to the budget approval, ShotSpotter was a frequent topic of discussion. Despite its innovative nature, ShotSpotter isn’t always correct. It misses 33 percent of shots fired per year. Sometimes the technology can be triggered by cars backfiring or fireworks.
“Anyway, you look at it,” said Police Chief Doug Solomon. “It’s definitely been a part of overall crime reduction effort. There’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and that’s certainly one of them.”
For some residents, ShotSpotter is favorable, as they aren’t put in the position of having to report shootings that may endanger their own safety due to their association with the crime.
According to Solomon, the police department has been meeting with the ShotSpotter team to discuss alternative sources of funding. One meeting happened just last week.
“We got a couple of ideas,” said Solomon. “But nothing to act on immediately.” One of the options that they’re considering is applying for a federal grant. “There’s nothing we’re able to wrap our heads on right away.”
The police department is hoping to have outside sources of funding cover all of ShotSpotter.
“We’re kind of thinking that if we can get a little bit from different places,” said Solomon. “We may be able to put the pieces together. It’s going to be difficult right now, but we’re still trying.”