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Viewpoints: ShotSpotter delivers for 120 cities and can keep Buffalo safer

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As a summer surge in national gun violence rampages into the fall, the “defund the police” debate that now includes a movement to abolish the tools used by police has been playing out nationally, in Buffalo, and in the pages of this newspaper.

This debate has drawn the company I lead, ShotSpotter, into the crossfire. This controversy has been counterproductive due to misconceptions, imperfect information and intentional obfuscation. The costly byproduct has been an unfortunate distraction from a much more important conversation of how communities and police need to work together to enhance public safety for all.

Founded 25 years ago, ShotSpotter’s core purpose is to make communities safer, help reduce gun violence and, ultimately, save lives. Specifically, our acoustic gunshot detection service helps police departments quickly and precisely respond to gunfire within a minute of a sound of a gunshot, so that officers can get to shooting locations as quickly as possible to attend to victims, gather evidence and engage with residents in order to best serve and protect those communities suffering from persistent criminal gunfire. Our mission is particularly critical considering a finding by a Brookings Institution study that found approximately 88% of gunshots go unreported using the traditional 911 system.

In addition to providing instantaneous alerts, we are requested to prepare forensic reports to submit to courts in the context of a criminal case proceeding. These reports are prepared by experts who commit hours to harnessing all the acoustic and location data captured by our state-of-the-art sensors in coverage areas. The technology is a focused tool – highly accurate and unbiased in delivering evidence of a gunshot incident, including recorded sound of gunfire and the time and location of a shooting. This highly objective and factual........

© The Buffalo News

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