Hempstead Village officials are turning to a high-tech crime-fighting tool in an effort to deter gun violence and make the village safer.
The village board voted July 3 to sign a yearly contract with ShotSpotter Flex, based in Mountain View, Calif., to install a gunfire detection system and cameras to help police locate shots within seconds.
"It's something that's needed in the village," Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. said. "Residents will feel safer with it. And I think that we will be able to zoom in on the perpetrators much quicker."
The gunshot locator system, which is being used in a growing number of Long Island communities, is expected to bolster the $2 billion downtown redevelopment plan.
The computerized system, which transmits the location of gunshots to police, will cover 3 square miles of the 3.7-square-mile village, Hall said.
"Once you locate gunshots, you can locate a potential victim," said Reginal Lucas, president of the Hempstead Coordination Council of Civic Associations, who had pushed the village for a year to get ShotSpotter. "I go to meetings all times at night, and I could be a potential victim of gunshots."
The contract will cost $160,000 for the first year, which will include conducting a feasibility survey and securely storing equipment and monitoring systems. Subsequent years for the system will cost the village $120,000, according to the contract.
"It's about time," said George Siberón, executive director of the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association. "We know it is a community that has murders involving firearm use. It goes a long way to protecting our community and our residents."
From 2008 to April 2012, gun-related violence resulted in 19 murders, 140 incidents involving injuries and 162 shooting victims, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The gunfire detection system is "going to be a deterrent," village Deputy Police Chief Joseph Sortino said. "It'll help us find the guys that are careless enough to actually shoot their guns."
ShotSpotter representatives began last week to conduct a survey in Hempstead to determine where to install sensors and cameras. High-incident areas, such as the half-mile stretch running south roughly from Linden Place and Maple Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, recently profiled in Newsday, are slated to receive a ShotSpotter and a camera, Hall said.
"I recognize that it won't stop people from getting shot, but it would help identify who is doing the shooting and help to catch them, instead of relying on witnesses," Hall said. "Sometimes people won't tell you, but the cameras will tell you."
With Marina Villeneuve
Shootings in Hempstead Village
People shot (including those killed):
January-April 2012 -- 19
2011 -- 26
2010 -- 40
2009 -- 39
2008 -- 38
People Killed by Gun Violence:
January-April 2012 -- 2
2011 -- 4
2010 -- 6
2009 -- 2
2008 -- 5
Source: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.