VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Beach Police will now be able to pinpoint the exact location of where gunshots were fired with a new form of technology.
Police announced that ShotSpotter technology is now operational in the Oceanfront area as of Wednesday afternoon.
"[ShotSpotter] allows us to be laser focused, reduce our harm in the community and hold those individuals involved with gun violence accountable," said Police Chief Paul Neudigate.
ShotSpotter is a series of sensors placed around the area that measure gunshots and use top-of-the-line technology to find the exact location of a shooting. The company said their technology is so advanced it can even detect the caliber of the gun being used.
"We hear a lot of talk in the community that there is continual gunfire at the Oceanfront. Well, now we will have proven data to show whether that's accurate or not," Chief Neudigate said. "I can tell you right now that, unfortunately, data shows that there are way too many gun violence incidents that occur in and around the Oceanfront and the 2nd Precinct."
The new technology will ensure VBPD officers are notified of gunshot incidents in seconds instead of minutes - or possibly not even being notified at all.
Police will now respond to and thoroughly investigate all reports of gunfire identified by the technology within the two-square-mile coverage area.
"The safety of our residents, seasonal and permanent workforce and the millions of visitors who choose to spend their leisure time in the City of Virginia Beach will always be the top priority of the Virginia Beach Police Department," said Chief Neudigate. "As part of a comprehensive violence reduction strategy, we expect the use of this new technology in Virginia Beach will assist the police and community in holding those engaged in gun violence accountable."
VBPD report that 80% of gunfire doesn't get reported to officers. They said this added technology will increase police responses, which in turn will provide faster aid for victims, proactively impact gun violence and improve evidence recovery and NIBIN leads.
The department is also in the process of installing more cameras along the Oceanfront. Currently, there are 46 installed in the area, and city council has provided funding for an additional 50.
"ShotSpotter, NIBIN [National Integrated Ballistic Information Network], the cameras, eventually license plate readers all play a part," said Chief Neudigate.
Police say program expansion to additional coverage areas is expected in the months ahead.