New Bern Police Department introduces ShotSpotter technology

NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) – To combat shootings, a police department here in the east has installed ShotSpotter – a gunfire detection system.

It’s a system that could change the way police in New Bern respond to a shooting.

“It gives us the opportunity and the ability to be on scene as quickly as possible,” said New Bern Police Chief Patrick Gallagher.

Beginning March 26, ShotSpotter, designed to detect gunshots, will be live across the city.

Sensors will pick up the sound of a gunshot. Then a computer provides a triangulation of pinpoints to find the location. Once the sound is confirmed as gunfire, the findings are published, and police are alerted. This all happens within a minute, sometimes even faster.

“It’s more like 23 to 24 seconds,” ShotSpotter Solutions Director Fred Milanowski, said. “So it goes from gunshot, to 23 to 24 seconds later, to police officers being notified at the same time the 911 center is notified.”

According to Gallagher, 80 to 90 percent of gunfire that occurs in the community is not reported to law enforcement. This is why he knew things had to change fast.

“We will not simply stand by and use old strategies that are not as efficient and effective,” Gallagher said.

John C.B. Barnwell moved to the city from Minnesota, where the ShotSpotter system was also used. He said there are some benefits to it.

“Betters the neighborhood and lowers the crime rate and I think it will better the community,” Barnwell said.

The department now has a goal of disrupting the shooting cycle.

“This technology is geared towards our ability to make New Bern a safe place for all people to live, to work, and to visit,” Gallagher said.

Some residents were concerned that the technology would pick up conversations. Milanowski said that based on their studies, there’s a low chance of that happening.