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Police launch ShotSpotter program

The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) yesterday launched its much-anticipated ShotSpotter technology that will be able to trace gunshots in various areas of New Providence.

“On January 23 of this year, we signed a contract with ShotSpotter to implement the gunshot detection in New Providence,” said Chief Superintendent Zhivargo Dames.

“The first phase has already been installed.

“As of yesterday, we would have done a few testings and so minister, I am pleased to announce to you the we are ready to go live with our ShotSpotter detection technology.

“This technology will assist the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) greatly with detecting those shots of gunfire within our community that will assist the RBPF in responding timely to gunshots.”

The 92 sensors are installed in various undisclosed locations throughout the island.

When a gun goes off, officers in the mobile unit will have a cell phone device, which will receive a message indicating when and where the gunshot went off. 

Officers in the dispatch unit/control room will also receive this alert.

The system will be able to pick up simultaneous gunfire at any outdoor location. 

It, however, cannot be used to detect suppressed gunfire or gunfire within a building or home. 

ShotSpotter Director of Customer Success Alfred Lewers Jr. said that the technology has assisted in the reduction of crime and the improvement of police response times in regions where it has been previously installed.

In February, police in Toronto, Canada, announced that they have shelved plans to implement the technology over privacy concerns.

One of the main concerns was whether the microphones in the sensors would be recording all the time and potentially record private conversations. 

However, Lewers dismissed these concerns.

“We are a gunshot detection company and we install the [device] outside, in open areas, above the road ways, above ambient noise,” he said.

“So we’re not looking to capture audio other than for gunfire events.

“So when that dynamic event occurs, that bang, that boom, or that pop, it sends the information to our location servers and then to our monitors.

“We are listening to gunfire. We’ll give our customers information four seconds prior to the shooting event and two seconds after.

“At the same time there is dynamic event that gunfire occurs, if there are things that are happening at the same time that inadvertently get picked up, they will get that information, but it’s not like any type of streaming audio that’s being shared with our customers.

“And it’s outside, so it does not detect indoor activity. It’s only what’s outside where there’s not necessarily an expectation for privacy on city streets where a gun is being fired.”

The second phase of the ShotSpotter program will see an expansion of the sensors installed throughout the Family Islands.

According to National Security Minister Marvin Dames, this expansion is set to take place in the next fiscal year. 


Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications
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