Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said Wednesday he plans to seek grant funding to continue to pay for gunshot detection technology in some of the county’s most crime-ridden areas.
Sini said he’s researching federal and state grants to fund the system, now that the county has cut funding. He insisted the county’s proposed budget “gives the department what we need to keep crime down,” citing 175 new recruits, including 115 entering the police academy Monday.
“You’re not going to see the commissioner of any department want to give up tools to fight crime, so we have to keep coming up with innovative ways to fight crime, and that includes also doing our due diligence in terms of finding alternative sources of funding.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone slashed funding for ShotSpotter, the gunshot detection system, from his 2017 budget proposal, which was released last week.
The controversial move would leave communities such as Brentwood, Huntington Station, North Amityville, North Bellport and Wyandanch without the technology that has drawn mixed reviews since it was first introduced in Suffolk in late 2011. The county has spent about $1.5 million on SpotShotter.
While the move to defund ShotSpotter has drawn concern from some public officials and residents, a 2013 report from the police department found that nearly two-thirds of gunshots identified by the system were unsubstantiated and another 30 percent were found to be false.
ShotSpotter is used by police departments across the country and has been deployed in Nassau County since 2009.