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News Section: Local Government

Bradenton City Council Hears Presentation on Gunfire Sensor Technology

Published Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:03 am

BRADENTON - A recent law enforcement technology that has been touted to pinpoint the location of gunfire as soon as a shot goes off is under consideration for adoption by the city of Bradenton.


Use of the technology, called ShotSpotter (or SST), has steadily spread to other cities seeking to branch out their methods of reducing gun violence. Bradenton City Council members at Wednesday's workshop sought answers on how effective the service would prove.


SST's regional sales director Phil Dailly was at Wednesday's workshop to answer the council's questions and to make the company's case that its product can lower crime rates.


The product, as Dailly explained, is made of small, innocuous-looking sensors that can be placed on rooftops or telephone poles, among other places, such as (with the resident's permission) on top of residential homes. Tiny but powerful microphones allow the sensors to pick up the sound of live gunshots, which are heard through online software that shows the location of the sound.


Dailly also mentioned potential increased situational awareness gained fron the technology, as police would be able to hear gunfire events with multiple gunshots and prepare for such, as opposed to getting a call from a citizen who only heard one or two shots from the event.


Dailly also cited statistics claimed by the company that only 25 percent of gunshots are reported. 


This prompted a question from Bradenton Housing Authority Finance Director Darcy Branch, who asked Bradenton Police Chief Radzilowski if his force would be able to handle a 75 percent increase in responses to gunfires. The chief responded that he would move to prioritize the calls over other situations, but that he is "always asking the council for more officers" as well.


Dailly also told the council that the sensors can improve community relations. "The benefits we've seen throughout the country is that it strengthens the bond between communities and law enforcement when people are able to see how quickly police respond to gunfire," he said.


The cost of the service, if used in the a 3-4 square mile radius that the city would implement for the troubled area randing from 14th Street West to 27th Street East, would total $250,000 for the first year, and $180,000 for each additional year. The city is currently reviewing possible grant options that could be given toward the service by governmental bodies such as the Department of Justice and Homeland Security. No future workshops on the subject will likely be scheduled until such measures are fully reviewed.

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