Lakeshore News Tonight

East Chicago Police’s GPS Tool Targets Gun Crime

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January 1, 2014 by Hilary Powell

The City of East Chicago enters the new year with a new law enforcement tool that’s a sound investment for police.  Public safety is a priority for police and residents, and the city is using a new technology that hears shots even before police do.

Now East Chicago police are tracking gunfire with the click of a mouse.

“So, there is no getting away, we’ll we were a block away,” Deputy Chief John Verbich says as he uses ShotSpotter.  The gunshot listening technology uses GPS and acoustics to pinpoint the location of a gunshot.

“The sound is recorded, an alert goes up and is sent to a ShotSpotter facility in California and analyzed,” he says.  “Within a minute it is relayed back to east Chicago with the location.”

Tonight, he says officers will track down where a shot comes from within a 90-foot accuracy range.

“There will be no doubt.  We know exactly where the shots are coming from, and we are going to have people knock on your door and ask you what you are doing,” Verbich says.  “Hopefully this will curtail some of the celebratory gunfire that’s been occurring. It is needless gunfire and you’re endangering everybody’s life in the neighborhood.”

East Chicago has used the technology for three months.

Verbich says 35 patrol cars are cruising the streets, equipped with the targeting technology.

Officers say, the program is deterring shooters, and saving patrol officers from walking into life-threatening situations.

“It helps the officer know what we’re getting into,” East Chicago Police Sergeant Jose Rivera says. “Today it is going to be busy with ShotSpotter.  We’ll have extra guys out there.  There are so many people out there shooting at midnight.  Again, we do not have to rely on actually seeing it.  They’re going to be reluctant to call it in because they figure, well, it is tradition, so people won’t call police.”

Darnell Oscar is a resident who lives near a shooting report, and he is skeptical that the new technology can curb senseless shooting.

“Because it isn’t like, if gunshots go off, they can appear that instantly just because they know the location.  They still got to speed here.  You know, by that time, people hear sirens, people are gone with the guns put up.”

East Chicago law enforcement says it is entering the new year with an asset it hopes will silence some shooting and keep citizens safer in 2014.


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