Improving police response times and assisting in their overall mission to protect and serve, ultra-sensitive shot-detection technology is being utilized by law enforcement agencies in a handful of New Jersey's high-crime cities.

Hand Firing Gun
Fuse, ThinkStock

Through the system, police are alerted almost instantly after gunfire erupts. They're also told how many shots have been fired and where - the product of strategically-placed sensors meant to capture, identify and locate the sound.

ShotSpotter technology is currently in place in seven New Jersey cities, according to the company's July 2016 update.

Camden County Police Capt. Greg Carlin said the tool has dramatically reduced response times. They get an alert within about 12 seconds, once the system distinguishes the noise as gunfire, as opposed to a car backfiring or a low-flying helicopter. Then a unit is dispatched to the scene.

Carlin said ShotSpotter was partly needed because Camden residents had become somewhat "numb" and "desensitized" to gunfire near their homes. Many times, they weren't calling police, so this technology alerts them of incidents they may have never been informed of in the past.

"It's helped us with our investigations, putting pieces of the puzzle together, recreating crime scenes and the like," Carlin said.

In Newark, where a $1 million-plus grant acquired the equipment in 2009,Capt. Derek Glenn said recent updates to the technology have improved the reliability of the information they receive. It's more sensitive and more accurate than ever, he said.

"Say we have an instance where there are 12 shots fired, or even five shots fired, oftentimes we can tell that it's two distinct weapons that are being fired, rather than one," Glenn said.

Atlantic City, East Orange, Newark, Paterson, Plainfield and Trenton also utilize ShotSpotter, the company said.

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