Violence-reducing ‘ShotSpotter’ system coming to Hempstead

ShotSpotter Alert Console

The governing board of the Incorporated Village of Hempstead took further steps to reduce violence in the village when it voted to install a gunshot-detecting system known as ShotSpotter on July 3, 2012.

SST Inc., founded in 1995, produces ShotSpotter, which is a sophisticated piece of technology that uses sensors and sound waves to detect, locate, and alert the police at the exact time and location of gunfire.  “[ShotSpotter] can tell us if there were multiple shooters, which direction the shots were being fired, and it can possibly give the type of weapon that was being used,” Officer James Murphy of the Hempstead Police Department explained.


ShotSpotter uses sensors and sound waves to detect, locate, and alert the police at the exact time and location of gunfire.


There are many different types of ShotSpotter systems.  The system that Hempstead plans to use is called the Flex System.  Through the Flex System, once   the sensor is alarmed, it goes to the SST Incident Review Center in California.  There, workers, who are usually ex-military or ex-police officers, determine whether the sound was a gunshot, automobile backfire, fireworks, or construction work.  Then, if the data from California is a validated alert, it will immediately be transmitted electronically to the Hempstead Police Department.  Non-validated data, such as construction work, is discarded.

Many towns on Long Island where ShotSpotter has already been installed, including Roosevelt and Uniondale, have seen a reduced violence rate.  According to a 2011 Empire State News article, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter announced in April of 2011 that since the installment of the ShotSpotter system in the Uniondale/Roosevelt area on July 23, 2009, the number of gun shots fired in the area was reduced by 94 percent. This fact inspired Hempstead to look into getting its own ShotSpotter system.

“The residents of the village knew that Roosevelt and Uniondale were using this system through the county, and that it does work very well and it makes response time quicker for police,” said Deputy Chief Joseph Sortino of Hempstead Police Department.  “Through the board and through the mayor, they passed a resolution to get our own ShotSpotter.”

Officer Murphy estimated that ShotSpotters will be installed by the end of November 2012 at approximately 57 locations throughout Hempstead.  They will be mounted on light posts, government buildings, and private businesses.

SST Inc. states that without ShotSpotter, only 20 percent of gunfire is reported to the police.  The company believes that with the use of this innovative system, that percentage will increase to 80 percent.