Tampa police to test gunshot-tracking software

The Tampa Police Department will have a new crime-fighting weapon in its arsenal after the city council approved funding for a new gunfire-detection technology.

TPD is investing in ShotSpotter, which developers have said can help detect the location of gunfire within 75 feet, along with the number of shots fired.

"What's being promised is that within 60 seconds we are going to get a report that tells us with great accuracy where the shots were fired, what kind of weapon was used, if there was motion involved, if it's in a car, if there's more than one shot," said Steve Hegarty, a spokesperson for the police department. "That's very valuable to us because right now, when there are shots fired, we rely on someone calling 911."

ShotSpotter, which has been used for several years by other law enforcement agencies including the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, uses sensors deployed throughout high-crime areas. Those sensors are going to be installed in a three square-mile area of Tampa.

Hegarty said that area is not being revealed because police want to compare before-and-after ShotSpotter data and officers believe it will be more accurate if neighbors aren't told where the sensors are.

"I think the outcome is that we're just going to be on the spot quicker, make some arrests that way we hope to make the neighborhood safer," Hegarty added.

The city council approved $430,000 for the technology, a large portion of which will come from the Technology Innovation Public Safety (TIPS) Grant within the Police Grants Fund.