Syracuse’s ShotSpotter returns after being cut due to pandemic budget concerns

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — An important tool for Syracuse Police to combat crime is coming back, especially after three recent shootings involving children.

ShotSpotter, a technology that detects the sound of gunfire from street poles and alerts police, is being reinstated and should be operational by next week.

“With confirmation of American Rescue Plan funding to the City of Syracuse last month, Mayor Walsh requested ShotSpotter be reinstated in the Syracuse Police Department budget. The Department began the process of restarting the service on Monday. The ShotSpotter service provider expects to have the system fully operational next week. Mayor Walsh has also asked Chief Buckner to explore expanding ShotSpotter in the coming year.”

Initial statement from First Deputy Chief Joseph Cecile

The coronavirus pandemic led Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh to cut $18.1 million from the budget last year before federal funding was released to local municipalities. ShotSpotter was one of those items cut.

“We’ve always thought of it as an important component, the mayor and the chief. We just didn’t have the money,” First Deputy Chief Cecile explained.

Mayor Walsh announced the program’s return in his budget address to the Common Council last week.

However, now with more federal funding, coupled with the rise in violent crime, that small piece of equipment will be back up and running.

I had conversations with ShotSpotter just this Monday to not only bring it back the territory we had designated already, but to expand upwards to into the northside and somewhere down into the eastside of the City of Syracuse as well.

First Deputy Chief Joseph Cecile, Syracuse Police Department

Cecile says the ShotSpotter is just another tool in the toolbox. The most important is having officers right on the streets, responding directly to the shots fired calls, and building relationships with the community.

“Officers are always going to be your number one component to solving any type of gun violence or anything out there,” – First Deputy Chief Joseph Cecile, Syracuse Police Department

“We’ve had multiple instances where shots have been fired and no one’s called. And that’s where ShotSpotter is critical because if no one is calling, the only thing we can rely on unless we have an officer nearby who overhears it, him or herself, the ShotSpotter will notify us that a shots fired has occurred and, in some cases, not just a shots fired, but that somebody has been hit. So we can get there quickly and take care of business,” the Deputy Chief explained.

The ShotSpotter program costs just over $220,000 per year, but with the city doubling its footprint, the annual cost will then be doubled, too.

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