02.22.17

SCHUMER: CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY COULD HELP CITY OF UTICA RESPOND TO AND PREVENT VIOLENT CRIME; WITH OVER 44% OF SHOTS-FIRED REPORTS LACKING CRIME SOLVING DATA, CITY HAS APPLIED FOR FED FUNDS THAT WOULD HELP IT INSTALL HIGH-TECH “SHOT-SPOTTER” AUDIO SENSORS THAT ALERT POLICE IN REAL TIME WHEN GUNSHOTS ARE FIRED; SENATOR URGES DEPT. OF JUSTICE TO AWARD FUNDING ASAP

City of Utica Has Applied For Fed Funding To Purchase High-Tech System – Called “ShotSpotter” – That Would Enable More Than 100 Audio Sensors Across City To Detect Gunshots & Send Real-Time Alerts To Police, Allowing First Responders To More Quickly And Accurately Locate Crime Scenes & Victims

The department responded to 47 firearm shooting assaults over 2015 and 2016 – with 44% of reports involving a lapse in report time or uncertainty of the exact location of the shooting

Schumer: System Could Be Game-Changer For Curbing Gun Crimes and Protecting Citizens In Utica

Standing with police officers, community leaders and elected officials at the Utica Police Department’s headquarters, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched a major push to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that would allow the City of Utica to enhance its cutting-edge crime-fighting tools by purchasing a new audio sensing system called “ShotSpotter.” Schumer said that this technology is used to improve police response to gun violence – to save lives and solve crimes – by providing law enforcement with real-time alerts when it detects the sound of gunshots. Schumer said first responders need this technology to quickly and accurately locate crime scenes and victims. Schumer explained that the City of Utica could use this cutting-edge technology to solve one of its most common scanner calls: shots fired.  For example, the Utica Police Department responded to 47 firearm shooting assaults over 2015 and 2016 – with 44% of shots fired calls involving a lapse in report time or uncertainty of the exact location of the shooting.

“The cutting-edge technology in the new ‘ShotSpotter’ program helps our police solve crimes and save lives, and that’s why I will do all I can to help the Utica PD secure this grant. Utica Police are working overtime to track down ‘shots fired’ calls and that means the federal government should be, too, by stepping up to help Utica crack down on this gun violence. That’s why I’m urging the DOJ to award this desperately needed federal funding, which will allow the city to install a high-tech audio sensor system that alerts officers in real-time once gunshots have been fired. This kind of system will enable first responders to more quickly respond as well as accurately locate crime scenes and victims,” said Senator Schumer. “We need to utilize every tool in our toolbox and, with this funding, Utica can continue to its mission of decreasing shots fired calls and crime in the city.”

Schumer also has a history of helping to connect Utica with the Department of Justice on the issue of gun violence. In 2010, Utica requested a direct partnership with the Department of Justice and the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau (ATF). Schumer helped foster the connection and the city used this relationship to better track the flow of illegal guns in and out of Utica. This allowed the Utica Police Department (UPD) to pinpoint which states were contributing the most to Utica’s illegal gun flow. The City has used this crime intelligence as part of their investigations, crime prevention efforts and federal advocacy. Schumer has also helped Utica secure other Department of Justice public safety grants, like the COPS grant, which strengthened the City's efforts to beat back illegal guns and the criminals who purchase them.

Schumer explained ‘shots fired’ calls are still an issue in Utica, as the city—through no fault of its own—lacks critical data regarding gunfire frequency—information the federal government should help UPD to acquire. The City of Utica is therefore applying for $430,000 in federal TIPS funds that would help blanket nearly 17 square miles of the city with audio sensors able to detect gunshots and send real-time alerts to police. The ShotSpotter system provides data to law enforcement in real time when it detects the sound of gunshots, allowing first responders to more quickly and accurately locate crime scenes and victims, and provide crucial data regarding the frequency and location of gunshots. 

Schumer said this is both a vital law enforcement and public health tool – as the faster first responders get to victims, the more likely they are to save them from potentially life-threatening wounds. Schumer explained that, in the City of Utica, 44 percent of gunshot reports exhibit a lapse in report time, and that close to 25 percent of the reported shootings lacked the location information first responders need to get to victims fast. According to the City, this technology would provide a more accurate picture of gun violence in Utica and allow the UPD to better tailor prevention strategies and improve in-progress shooting responses. Schumer therefore urged the DOJ to award this funding for the City of Utica as soon as possible, so the city can continue its anti-crime efforts.

In addition, the Utica Observer Dispatch reported the Utica Police Department recorded a five-year average of 294 violent crimes — such as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — from 2011 through 2015. Last October, it reported 300 violent crimes for 2016, a two percent increase. Of that number, 72 were firearm-related, a three percent decrease from the five-year average's 74.

Schumer was joined by Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri, Police Chief Mark Williams and Oneida Country District Attorney Scott D. McNamara and the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office’s Community Liaison Patrick Johnson.

“Innovative technology is an effective and necessary tool in enabling law enforcement to better serve and protect our community.  I am proud of the great work done by the Utica Police Department, and this technology would go to great lengths in enhancing the quality of life and safety of our residents.  Senator Schumer has been a strong advocate for the City of Utica, and I thank him for his continued support and partnership,” said Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri.

“I thank Senator Schumer for his efforts to advance of this initiative.  Once again, the Senator shows his strong support for law enforcement and the needs of our community,” said Oneida County District Attorney Scott D. McNamara.

The TIPS grant program allocates money to law enforcement agencies to support technological innovation in order to address information sharing capabilities and training for technical assistance.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to the DOJ appears below:  

Dear Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by the Utica Police Department for funding through the Technology Innovation for Public Safety Grant (BJA-2017-11547) offered through the Department of Justice. Such funding will enable the department to purchase a Shotspotter gunfire location alert and analysis service. 

The Utica Police Department protects a 17 square mile area of Oneida County, located in the center of New York State. The department responded to 47 firearm shooting assaults over 2015 and 2016 – with 44% of reports involving a lapse in report time or uncertainty of the exact location of the shooting. Nearly one quarter of all shooting assaults reported to the department over this period had no accompanying location data available to responding officers.

With funding, the Utica Police Department will acquire a Shotspotter gunfire location alert and analysis service. The tool combines wide-area acoustic surveillance with cloud-based analysis to triangulate the location of gunfire, and then relays that information to dispatch centers, patrol cars, and even smart phones. This technology will help reduce shootings in the area by improving the response time of officers to crimes involving gunfire. I applaud the Utica Police Department for its foresight, and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.

Thank you for your consideration.  Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator    

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