I-Team 8

IMPD pushes forward with gunshot-detection technology

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis police have begun Phase 2 of the process to install gunshot-detection technology by collecting data from three vendors: Flock Safety, J&M Security Systems, and ShotSpotter.

“That’s one of our major questions, is how accurate is this. It’s one thing to hear a gunshot and have no idea where it came from, and it’s another thing to be able to respond to a very specific area,” said Matthew Thomas, commander of criminal investigations division of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Thomas tells I-Team 8 the collection of data will help answer a long list of questions: accuracy, timing, and even the types of weapons that are being used.

“How fast was the response time? Has it changed? Or are we able to render medical aid to somebody more quickly?” he said. “It’s important that we walk through this methodically, and we’re using Phase 2 to do that, to ensure that the processes and policies are in place for Phase 3, which is active response by officers when they receive an alert directly to their laptop.”

Thomas says the phases area coming at no cost to IMPD because $9 million was given to the department through the American Rescue Plan Act, which provided federal funds as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, once and if a vendor is picked, the gunshot-detection technology will be costly.

IMPD teamed up with Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis to “study the results of this pilot and allow the community to make an informed decision about continuing the funding of this technology.”

Thomas said, “They’re able to sift through massive amounts of data and use best practices to be able to provide us kind of a third party for an independent voice and perspective.”

The IMPD commander says the pilot process will remain within a 5-mile radius in the East District. He says, while the police department believes the technology will help officers to be more efficient, it will not replace the basics.

“Gunshot-detection systems are not a substitute for calling 911. They are an enhancement,” Thomas said. “There will never be a replacement for calling 911. A person’s perspective of events is critical, and forming a more complete picture.”

Thomas says Phase 2 will last two weeks. He says the goal is to get through all six phases and then pilot one vendor for a year.