Home Law Enforcement Gunshot Detection Technology Improves Police Response Time
Gunshot Detection Technology Improves Police Response Time

Gunshot Detection Technology Improves Police Response Time

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By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Military University

Typically, when a shooting incident occurs, several minutes may go by before someone is in a safe enough location to call 911. But often the caller is unsure where the gunshots came from. This lack of critical information can increase police officers’ response times because they must first pinpoint the location of the shooting.

The size of the ammunition, whether the shots came from inside a building causing an echo, and citizens’ unfamiliarity with the sound of gunshots can hamper police officers’ ability to adequately pinpoint the location of the shooting.

A current trend that is gaining popularity among police agencies is the use of technology that detects the sound of gunshots and almost immediately notifies law enforcement. This new shots-fired notification technology is often quicker than the traditional calls to 911.

This gunshot reporting technology is now being used in law enforcement agencies across the United States and beyond. It can even be used to alert law enforcement to gunshots within buildings and inside other critical infrastructures.

[Related: Training Civilians to Respond to Mass Shootings]

That critical information can improve police response times during active shooter incidents, thereby reducing the loss of life and safeguarding others within the building. The technology can also assist in notifying everyone inside what to do.

How Gunshot Technology Works

Acoustic sensors detect apparent gunshots by triangulating on their location. The sensors are placed on buildings and lamp posts with standard mounting brackets. The sounds are transmitted to an incident review center to quickly determine if they are actual gunshots. Once it’s been confirmed that the sounds are gunshots, law enforcement agencies are notified within seconds.

Some gunshot detection technology applications can notify officers on their smart phones. The information can include whether the shots came from automatic weapons or from multiple rounds being fired. Interestingly, some gunshot detection services can even provide a brief audio clip of the shots.

[Related: Improve Response by Improving Operational Information Flow]

Some officers have reported hearing people screaming in the background on the clips. These apps give officers a tactical advantage by being able to determine whether the shots came from an automatic weapon, a handgun or an assault rifle. The technology filters out false positives, such as fireworks or vehicles backfiring. It can also be coupled with integrated camera systems to provide further intelligence regarding gunshot incidents.

From my experience in law enforcement, prompt notification of a shooting incident increases the chances of saving someone’s life and apprehending the shooter or shooters.

Gunshot detection technology gives law enforcement officers a tactical advantage, enabling them to have real-time data. Once the validity of the gunshots has been determined, within seconds police officers have critical information regarding the location and number of gunshots fired.

gunshot detection technologyAbout the Author: Dr. Jarrod Sadulski has been involved in homeland security for over two decades and he is an associate professor at American Military University. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States, Europe, and Central America on topics such as local police response to domestic terrorism, human trafficking, and narcotics trafficking. Most recently, he presented at the 2019 International Human Trafficking Conference. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering. Jarrod was selected as the Coast Guard’s Reserve McShan Inspirational Leadership Award recipient for 2019. To contact the author, email IPSauthor@apus.edu. For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter.


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  1. Investments in border security are also a growth driver for the gunshot detection systems market, as these systems can be useful in detecting and averting any possible attempts of infiltration, smuggling, and illegal migration.


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