Fri | Aug 12, 2022

Price hurdle to shot tracker as gunfire haunts city

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2022 | 12:12 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter

Gem Road. Lincoln Avenue. Wellington Road. Waltham Park Road. Rome.

Almost nightly residents along these grim Corporate Area corridors have heart-stopping moments from ear-splitting discharges.

To the uninitiated ear, it might appear to be the sound of fireworks, but gangsters are engaged in firefights or in war games to flaunt their firepower.

ShotSpotter technology would enable quicker incident response by the police to assist victims, apprehend suspects, and gather evidence.

But affordability is a key hurdle to the game-changing acquisition which the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has been studying for some time.

Subscription fees run as high as US$95,000 per square mile per year, with a three-square-mile minimum.

“The price and cost of the technology is coming down, but part of the ShotSpotter also looks at cameras that also link to the point where the triangulation of the shot is heard,” Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson said in response to a question from The Gleaner.

He was speaking during Tuesday’s virtual press briefing at his Old Hope Road headquarters in St Andrew.

Though the JCF has had success in weapons seizures, sustained gunfire and gang violence continue to rattle Corporate Area police divisions, including St Andrew South and Kingston Western, with some incidents going unreported.

The New York Police Department, one of the largest in the United States, underwent a technological transformation and has, since 2015, employed the ShotSpotter in advancing crime-fighting efforts to keep communities safe.

The technology pinpoints, in real time, the location of gunfire, even when no one makes a report by calling 911.

In alerting police officers to shooting scenes, they gather important data such as the number of shots fired, whether the shooter was moving (for example, in a vehicle) at the time of the incident, and the direction of the shooter’s movement.

The police say they are looking to ramp up their use of technologies in securing Kingston’s hotbeds of crime, including the leveraging of JamaicaEye camera surveillance.

“At the moment, we have been trying as best as possible, and some of the operational deployments that we are doing are having an effect, but obviously the more we can implement these technologies, the better,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the JCF will continue to use all the tools available to seize illegal guns, pursue gangs, and hunt their financiers.

In the first half of 2022, law enforcers seized 392 firearms.

That’s an increase of seven per cent over the corresponding period in 2021, representing the largest mid-year weapons haul over the last five years.

There was a 60 per cent increase in the seizure of rifles and a seven per cent rise in pistol finds.

Jamaica recorded 716 murders up to June 30, two per cent higher year-on-year.

Gang conflicts account for 74 per cent of murders, while interpersonal disputes represented 14 per cent of killings.

Overall, there is a one per cent decrease in major crimes since the start of the year.

Robberies climbed six per cent and break-ins three per cent.

There has been a nine per cent decline in shootings and a 13 per cent fall in rape.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com