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After Too Many Shots Missed, Fall River, Mass., Ends Deal with ShotSpotter

Published: April 25, 2018
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Source: Gov. Tech

(TNS) — FALL RIVER, MASS. — The Fall River, Mass., Police Department and ShotSpotter, the $120,000-a-year gunshot detection system, have officially parted ways.

The California-based company decided it could no longer offer its service to the city for free after police and administration officials balked at funding a system that they said worked less than 50 percent of the time and even missed all seven shots that were fired when a man was killed two months ago in downtown Fall River.

"The company had asked for the chance to bring it up to par where we needed it to be, but we saw little improvement with it in the past eight or nine months," said Fall River Police Chief Al Dupere.

ShotSpotter shut the system off a few days ago following a meeting last week between a company representative, Dupere and Mayor Jasiel Correia, who criticized the company for "walking away" instead of keeping the system in place and working to improve it.

"I told them I was disappointed in ShotSpotter. I told them it's a shame for them to not at least use Fall River for publicity while they tried to make their product work as best they could," Correia said, adding that the system for now is not worth the investment.

"It's a costly system that isn't working to the effectiveness that we need it to work in order to justify the cost," Correia said.

A ShotSpotter media representative was not immediately available for comment.

Since last July, when Dupere first told ShotSpotter that he no longer planned to continue using its service, the company had kept the system live in Fall River, free of charge to the city, while trying to work out the shortcomings.

Dupere said last summer that ShotSpotter had reported too many false alarms of gunfire while missing actual shots-fired incidents in Fall River. Dupere said then that he and other city officials decided the money would be better used to expand the police department's video surveillance system in the city.

But ShotSpotter offered to improve the system and work with the city to secure grant funding, prompting local officials to re-embrace the technology.

"We are pleased with the response from ShotSpotter to our concerns," Dupere said this past December.

Four months later, however, Dupere said ShotSpotter has not improved. He told the Herald News that the system has about a 50 percent accuracy rate; far below the 90 percent mark the city was promised when it signed with the company five years ago. Dupere said ShotSpotter also missed all seven shots in the Feb. 14 murder of Maurice Timberlake, who was gunned down at the corner of South Main and Morgan streets.

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