VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A technology that can detect gunshots — even before any 911 calls are made — is now live at the Oceanfront.
The system went live as of Wednesday afternoon, the City of Virginia Beach wrote in a news release Wednesday.
“ShotSpotter” is a sensor system that detects the sound of gunfire and uses GPS technology to pinpoint its exact location. Police are alerted within 60 seconds.
The city said national statistics indicate that less than 20% of all ShotSpotter activations also have a corresponding 911 call. Officials said that allows “perpetrators to become emboldened and leads community members to believe police are apathetic to crime conditions.”
“With the implementation of ShotSpotter, the VBPD will now respond to and thoroughly investigate ALL reports of gunfire identified by the technology within the two-square mile coverage area,” the city wrote in the release.
Back in November, the city’s new police chief suggested ShotSpotter may be a worthwhile investment. City Council then voted in April to spend $240,000 to purchase and install the system, which will identify and triangulate gunshots within a 3-square-mile area. There are also opportunities to expand the system.
The measure was part of a resolution that established two capital projects and transferred $1.87 million to help police initiatives, such as safety lighting, a camera system and more.
“The safety of our residents, seasonal and permanent workforce, and the millions of visitors who choose to spend their leisure time in the City of Virginia Beach will always be the top priority of the Virginia Beach Police Department,” said Chief Paul Neudigate. “As part of a comprehensive violence reduction strategy, we expect the use of this new technology in Virginia Beach will assist the police and community in holding those engaged in gun violence accountable.”
Virginia Beach expected to expand the system to cover more areas in the “months ahead.” It will be expanded based on historical crime data.
The City of Newport News is the only other Hampton Roads locality that has ShotSpotter technology. It went live in October 2019.
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