Rockford Police Department says gunshot detection technology playing a role in fighting violent crime

ROCKFORD (WREX) – On Tuesday, Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea announced a murder had happened in the early morning hours on Adams Street.

“This morning at approximately 5-45 hours officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert,” said O’Shea during a press conference.

O’Shea says that ShotSpotter technology was one of the factors that allowed officers to get to the scene quickly and arrest a suspect the same day. ShotSpotter detects gunfire, pinpoints its location, and sends it to officers in real time. So far this year, Rockford Police says the technology has alerted officers to 324 gunshots. This is a 118% increase compared to the same time last year. Chief O’Shea says this increase was expected while officers fine tuned the new equipment and became more familiar with how to use it.

“Obviously we don’t like higher numbers of gunfire but we want the technology to do what we’re paying for and we want our officers getting the responses we need to get evidence and data to solve crimes.”

While O’Shea can’t discuss specific cases where ShotSpotter led to an arrest, he says it’s proved itself useful time and time again. For example, in a homicide case.

“The officers were responding to the ShotSpotter alert. No phone calls for the murder or shooting.  But while they were responding another piece of our technology came into play, their in-car camera recorded the suspect vehicle leaving the area after the shooting because they responded to the ShotSpotter alert.”

O’Shea says this technology mixed with the public being forthcoming with information is helping detectives solve cases. In 2015 detectives solved 19% of homicides. Fast forward to today, the clearance rate stands at 75%.

“Maybe those wouldn’t have been able to clear so quick if we didn’t have ShotSpotter, or the people in the neighborhood didn’t want to speak to us, or we didn’t have video cameras picking up suspects.”

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden

Investigative Reporter

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