The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Clark County Commissioners announced the expansion of the ShotSpotter gunfire detection technology into several neighborhoods in the Las Vegas Valley after pilot programs showed successful results.
The first pilot program, championed by Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Vice Chairman Lawrence Weekly, was launched in 2017 in the Northeast valley and was expanded to include a second location in the South-Central and Southeast area of the Las Vegas Valley. ShotSpotter is an acoustic detection technology that uses audio sensors to detect, locate and alert police agencies to the location of gunfire incidents in real time. The technology does not replace the need for people to call 9-1-1 to report possible crimes in progress but enhances police response to scenes, evidence collection and crime-fighting efforts to stop gun violence.
"Clark County is proud to announce the expansion of the ShotSpotter program across the Las Vegas Valley to help reduce crime and make our neighborhoods safer," said Commissioner Kirkpatrick, who was the driving force behind bringing the technology to the Las Vegas Valley as an outgrowth of her Pathway from Poverty initiative to improve the health, safety and well-being residents living in low-income areas in her district. "We are grateful to Metro for its partnership in putting this technology to good use in fighting crime and improving the quality of life throughout our community."
During the first nine months of the pilot program, ShotSpotter identified 487 potential gunshot events, with 65 percent of them going unreported to police. Of those events that were reported to 9-1-1, ShotSpotter reported events faster than 9-1-1 dispatch – 86 percent of the time – and often with more accurate location information. Phone calls to 9-1-1 typically take time to process and initial reporting information from callers, while important, often can be vague.
"ShotSpotter technology is a great enhancement to our operations and has proven itself to be quite effective in identifying illegal shootings that would normally go unreported," said Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Undersheriff Kevin McMahill. "The technology has resulted in faster response times, increased collection of evidence and an overall reduction in violent crime."
The two locations where ShotSpotter was installed in 2017 covered 6 square miles and have been expanded as part of the new program. Additionally, the 2019 expansion adds six new coverage areas in the Las Vegas valley encompassing 24 square miles and including public safety cameras. Coverage areas are generally located in southeast, southwest, downtown and northwest parts of the valley, and were chosen based an analysis of persistent hotspots for crime, illegal shootings and ongoing police enforcement efforts.
"The presence of cameras and ShotSpotter technology has a proven track record in reducing crime," said Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson. "I want to thank my commission colleagues for allocating the resources to expand this innovative program across the Las Vegas Valley."
"The use of the ShotSpotter technology allows us to maximize our public safety resources throughout our community," said Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft. "We are proud to partner with Metro on this innovative initiative that has already saved lives. The expansion of this program will continue to help reduce crime and fight gun violence."
The ShotSpotter technology is monitored by Metro's Fusion Watch unit. When gun shots are detected, alerts are broadcast over Metro's radio channels and acknowledged by dispatch. Metro patrol officers are able to monitor information from their vehicle consoles and mobile phones using a ShotSpotter application. The technology has allowed Metro to detect and address more discharges of illegal gunfire, locate potential victims faster, and collect more evidence such as shell casings to make more arrests.
"Data shows that our highest crime areas tend to be poorer neighborhoods where the sound of gun shots happens so frequently that many people don't bother to call 911," said Commissioner Weekly. "The ShotSpotter technology helps police pinpoint problem areas and improve their response time, which in turn helps restore people's faith in law enforcement and community policing efforts."