The University Police Department of West Georgia has recently installed ShotSpotter on campus in order to shorten their response time when a gunshot is heard.
ShotSpotter is a type of GPS technology that is designed to accurately pinpoint the location of gunshots and aid law enforcement to respond faster.
The way ShotSpotter works is with a group of censors. UPD has placed the censors all over campus and the censors as a group create a net. If a shot is fired the sensors triangulate towards wherever it was heard, therefore pinpointing the shot. Within a minute ShotSpotter’s database in California can tell UPD where the shot was fired, helping the police respond within seconds.
“Before we got this system someone would discharge a weapon and if it was heard someone would pick up the phone and call,” said George E. Watson, Deputy Chief of Police. “By the time it’s heard by the complainant and dispatch handles it and puts out the call for the police, it could be five, 10, maybe 15 minutes before they get there. On campus, we have maybe a two-minute response time if we aren’t super busy, but outside of campus can be kind of lengthy. We are concerned by that, and that’s why we put this into place.”
The system itself covers everywhere from on campus to all the surrounding apartment complexes. UPD also took the nearby gun range into consideration; since all of Carrollton’s law enforcement practice shooting at the range, the police departments have to communicate in order to make sure that residents are still safe.
UPD recently decided to test the technology once the censors were set up. UPD sent out an email stating that they would go around campus shooting into bullet traps in order to see if the shots would be properly detected. Watson says that the department picked their best shooters to shoot into the boxes in order to keep everyone safe and make sure that the test was a success.
“We took it to different spots around campus,” said Watson. “We fired twelve rounds from a .45, 9-millimeter and a .40 cal. We also had two rifles available to us. All of that was shot into a bullet trap and the shots were then detected. The test was very successful.”
Though Watson did not know for sure if the software could tell what kind of gun was shot, he did confirm that the software can differentiate actual gunshots from loud noises that might sound similar.
Watson admits that UPD is still learning the ins and outs of the software but they are learning quickly and feel optimistic about the help ShotSpotter brings. ShotSpotter is up and ready and is active on the campus.