Richmond Police exploring gunshot detection technology
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - If shots ring out in Richmond, police are hopeful technology can help them figure out what happened quicker.
Wednesday, during a crime briefing, Acting Police Chief Rick Edwards said the department is interested in using sensors around the city to track gunfire.
“The frustration they have of saying I’m hearing gunfire, but I can’t exactly pinpoint where it is, that technology gives you a lat and longitude of where that gunfire is,” said Acting Police Chief Rick Edwards, Richmond Police Dept.
Under the program, sensors would be placed on buildings or light posts in high-crime areas. It is also costly and would take about a year to get into place, but Edwards says it’s worth it.
“Many times our officers respond to a scene of gunfire, no one’s hit, and we don’t know exactly where it occurred. The good officers will spend some time looking for it, but not everyone can find the casings,” said Acting Chief Edwards.
The department now has 36 license plate readers around the city, including one on North Avenue. Edwards says the cameras have already helped solve crimes and located stolen vehicles.
“We need to leverage all the technology we can to make our officers more effective and more efficient,” said Acting Police Chief Edwards.
Major crime across Richmond is up 19%, primarily driven by property crimes, because violent crime is flat.
Homicides fell 34% in 2022 from the year before, though shootings were up 5 percent. Among property crimes, burglaries rose 11% and car break-ins were up nearly 40%.
Edwards says active patrols and community walks are all critical factors in turning the numbers around.
“We’ve identified the hot spots in the neighborhoods. We have these officers mark out there for 10-15 minutes. Studies have shown that it deters crime,” said Acting Chief Edwards.
The department now has a machine of its own to do ballistics comparison work, cutting the time from weeks to days.
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