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Gunshot detection program returns to Suffolk County after years without funding

In this Aug. 10, 2021, file photo, ShotSpotter equipment overlooks an intersection.
Charles Rex Arbogast
In this Aug. 10, 2021, file photo, ShotSpotter equipment overlooks an intersection.

After three years without funding, ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection program used by police, has been revived in Suffolk County.

County legislators unanimously approved $1.8 million to fund ShotSpotter. The program has been used in Suffolk since 2011, but was discontinued in 2019, after the technology was deemed ineffective by law enforcement.

However, Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a statement that gun violence spiked after the program was eliminated. According to data from his office, “shooting incidents doubled” between 2020 and 2021. Last year, shootings “continued to increase another 34%,” a press release said.

ShotSpotter is used by law enforcement to reduce over policing by pinpointing exact locations of gunshots. According to the company, “ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensors that are strategically placed in an array of approximately 20 sensors per square mile.” The sensors are connected to a cloud-based application that will both detect and accurately locate gunshots.

According to authorities, the 11 areas most impacted by gun violence in Suffolk County are Huntington Station, North Amityville, Wyandanch, Brentwood, Bay Shore, Central Islip, Coram, Gordon Heights, North Bellport, Shirley, and Mastic Beach. Geographically, these communities make up less than 1% of the county but have over 50% of gun violence reported.

“These under-served communities are besieged by gunfire at a staggeringly higher rate than other communities in Suffolk County,” Tierney said. “All of our communities deserve to be safe.”

Lauren is a former news intern at WSHU.