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Long Beach to try ShotSpotter

ShotSpotter units, like this one in a Nassau

ShotSpotter units, like this one in a Nassau County police car patrolling Uniondale, help police pinpoint gunshot locations across Long Island. Credit: Howard Schnapp, 2010

Long Beach police are receiving $500,000 from Nassau County for the ShotSpotter gunfire recognition technology to address recent shootings.

City police requested funding earlier this year to curb shootings and alert officers to respond faster to where weapons are fired.

Police increased patrols last year after the shooting death of Tyrenzo Brown, 28, at the Channel Park housing complex in the city's North Park community, which has had multiple shootings in recent years.

A 4-year-old boy was grazed by a bullet at the same complex last month. Brown's cousin was arrested in that shooting.

"Several months ago, we identified ShotSpotter as a resource that we desperately need, and we requested financial assistance from Nassau County," Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said.

Nassau County Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) and Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) allocated $500,000 from the legislature's Community Revitalization Projects funding to cover the program for the next five years.

ShotSpotter will add audio sensors atop high poles and buildings around the city to recognize the sound of gunshots; the sensors will relay an exact location of the shooting to police.

The system has been active throughout several Nassau County communities, including in Hempstead Village, and has also been expanded throughout New York City and parts of Suffolk County.

Hempstead police are also adding cameras to their sensors. Police have not quantified direct results of ShotSpotter, but have noted a decrease in crime during the two years since it was added.

Officials hope it brings similar results to Long Beach.

The California-based ShotSpotter company plans to cover the entire city with sensors. ShotSpotter president Ralph A. Clark said in a written statement that the technology picks up gunshots that are not reported 75 percent of the time to 911.

"There have been many shootings recently in Long Beach's North Park area, and I've seen the success that the Nassau County Police Department has had using ShotSpotter to identify the exact location of gunfire and the perpetrator using the gun," Ford said.

"I am thrilled to be a part of bringing this program to our city because it will help us to reduce, and even prevent, gun violence in our community."

The city has no timeline for when the ShotSpotter technology may be installed. City officials are waiting for funding to be disbursed.

"We're extremely happy that Legislator Ford has recognized the need for this and is working with Nassau County to bring these necessary resources to our City," City Council vice president Fran Adelson said in a statement.

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