Pittsburgh expands gunshot detection system to all police zones |

Pittsburgh expands gunshot detection system to all police zones

Bob Bauder
Bob Bauder
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich (L) and police Chief Scott Schubert brief reporters on an expansion of the city's gunshot detection system on Nov. 30, 2018.

Pittsburgh’s gunshot detection and security camera systems have expanded, the public safety director said Friday.

Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich in a budget hearing before City Council said the system will provide 18 square miles of coverage – an exponential increase over the previous 3 square miles – including areas within each of the city’s six police zones.

Council earlier this year approved a three-year, $5 million contract with Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls to purchase security cameras and support services. Council also approved a three-year $3.4 million contract with Shotspotter Inc., based in Newark, Calif., to expand the gunshot detection system.

“There are areas within the city that gunfire is so frequent and people don’t call 911,” Hissrich said. “With shot spotter we have that instant alert to the police officers. They show up. They find individuals who have been injured. They may render first aid right away until the medics arrive, and we have saved lives.”

The systems also have the potential to provide more evidence and safety for officers.

“Sometimes you’ll get a call that there’s shots fired, but you don’t know where it’s at in that area,” Police Chief Scott Schubert said. “Now its more specific where it’s at, how many rounds are being fired and tactically for the officer approaching the scene it’s safer.”

Hissrich said the city is adding 250 cameras to the system that will automatically move to film in the direction of the gunshots.

Public Safety Department officials reviewed gunshot statistics from 2015 to 2017 to determine where they happen most frequently and deploy the system into those areas, according to Dan Shak, the department’s technology manager.

The expansion covers areas of the city where 87.2 percent of gun-related homicides and 80.5 percent gunshots have happened over the three-year period, Shak said. He said the department finished activating the system on Friday.

The system previously included 3 square miles in crime-plagued communities of the city’s East End covered by Zone 5 police officers. Pittsburgh is adding 1.5 miles of coverage to that area.

Following is a list of coverage in square miles for each police zone:

  • Zone 1, North Side: 4.5 miles.
  • Zones 2, Hill District, and 4, Squirrel Hill: combined total of 3.4 miles.
  • Zone 3, Allentown: 3.1 miles.
  • Zone 5, Highland Park: 4.5 miles.
  • Zone 6, West End: 2.5 miles.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.

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