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New technology allows Little Rock police to detect and locate gunfire

The department is installing acoustic sensors on lamp posts and buildings to listen for gunshots.

The Little Rock Police Department has deployed a new tool to detect and locate gunshots -- even when no one calls 911. Department officials are hopeful it will help officers respond to gunfire faster and more often than ever before.

“In order to stay up with criminals or help our citizens out, we have to be evolving and getting new technology.,” said Lt. Michael Ford, a spokesperson for LRPD.

In December, ShotSpotter went online in Little Rock. More than 90 U.S. cities use the gunshot detection system.

ShotSpotter utilizes acoustic sensors placed on lamp posts and buildings to listen for gunshots. When it hears a sound resembling gunfire, the system can determine its location based on how long it takes the sound to reach each sensor. The company analyzes the data and alerts police if gunfire is confirmed.

According to Ford, sensors were installed in areas with high volumes of shots-fired calls.

“It's sad that people get used to hearing shots fired in their area they think nothing of it and don't call it in,” Ford said. “That's something that we're trying to gain control of with this technology.”

Within the first two weeks of using the system, LRPD officers responded to about 15 shots-fired incidents detected by ShotSpotter that weren't called in,” Ford said. They found shell casings in four of those locations,” he said.

According to ShotSpotter, sensors only detect “loud, impulsive sounds” and are not triggered by human voices or other noises.

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