City expands ShotSpotter sensors and gunfire intelligence centers

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SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - The city is doubling the number of high-crime police districts equipped with ShotSpotter gunfire detectors and other technology that helps to deploy officers to the places where gun violence is occurring, officials said Tuesday.

ShotSpotter sensors were already in the Englewood District on the South Side and Harrison District on the West Side under a pilot program started by then-police Supt. Garry McCarthy in 2012. Now the Deering District on the South Side and Austin District on the West Side are getting the same technology, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Under police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the number of SpotSpotter sensors in Englewood and Harrison was recently expanded — along with police surveillance video cameras. Officers have been provided with in-car computers and cell phones equipped with ShotSpotter technology, which allows them to hear shots in almost real time and see the location of the shots on a map.

Also, Strategic Decision Support Centers have been installed in Englewood and Harrison. They’re rooms in which analysts from the police department and University of Chicago Crime Lab review the gunfire data and suggest where officers should be deployed.

The city is in the process of installing the same technology in Deering and Austin, said Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the police department. It costs about $1.5 million to equip each district with all of the technology, he said.

Guglielmi said the department has seen “a lot of success” with the new gunfire intelligence centers in Englewood and Harrison. Eventually, the police department would like to expand the technology to every district with high levels of gun violence, he said.

Shooting incidents were slightly up in Englewood and down in Harrison this year through Feb. 17 compared with the same period of 2016. Shootings soared in both districts last year, according to department statistics.