ShotSpotter Archives - Florida Politics

Jacksonville’s ShotSpotter identifies ‘when, where, and what’ of gunshots

A Tuesday morning Jacksonville City Council committee saw an update on the city’s ShotSpotter program from Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Homeland Security Chief Robert Connor.

This much-ballyhooed anti-crime tool does what its name suggests: it identifies, via sound, where a bullet’s origin might be.

For law enforcement, this provides an important tool; for those married to old-school concepts of civil libertarianism, the program arguably marks one more step toward perpetual mass surveillance.

Philosophical questions aside, implementation is “moving along well,” with sensor installation already underway, Connor said. Moves are being made to get permission for sensor placement at Duval County Public Schools also.

Jacksonville has reviewed best practices from other major cities, with progress on pace toward a draft policy and a July training class at the police academy – conducted by ShotSpotter.

“They want to do that training closer to the implementation date,” Connor noted.

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For Jacksonville, this is the culmination of a journey toward yet another strategy to reduce senseless gunplay in local battle zones.

Earlier this year, the city “appropriate[d] $435,001 already allocated in a ShotSpotter reserve account to an equipment purchase account for installation of the test site … acoustic gunshot detection and surveillance technology in a 5 square mile area of Health Zone 1.”

Health Zone 1 encompasses five Jacksonville Journey zip codes, including 32209, which was described by the Florida Times-Union as “Jacksonville’s killing fields.”

“Although this is less than 1 percent of the land mass, it accounted for 10 percent of the firearm calls and 13 percent of the homicides related to firearms,” Connor said.

Meanwhile, the over 100 installation locations are being kept secret, to prevent malefactors from removing the sensors.

“It’s not exactly noticeable or visible where the sensors are,” Connor said, but the goal is “blanket coverage over the entire five square miles.”

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Connor noted that the cloud-based program is “not just a piece of computer software,” and all information is “vetted by a trained person in their review system.”

“Number of shots, position within 25 meters, and number of shooters” are among the types of information available through the program, as is historical data.

Sensors in the area “capture the data,” providing the “when, where, and what” of gunshots, Connor said.

Once a gunshot is confirmed, information will be sent to JSO, with a “flex alerts console” visible on the laptops of officers on patrol.

“That’s really important as we talk about response,” Connor added.

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Democratic State Rep. Kim Daniels, a former Jacksonville City Councilwoman who represents part of this area, was successful in getting $325,000 of state funds for the city’s pilot program in the next budget year.

ShotSpotter, a subscription system, has a recurring cost beyond start-up spending.

Connor noted that the system could be expanded in the future, once evidence of effectiveness is provided.

 “This is only one piece of the puzzle,” Connor said.

“As we’ve seen in other agencies … the real value comes in the investigation,” Connor added, with “exact detail” helping Jacksonville’s overstretched law enforcement, and with ShotSpotter experts offering friendly testimony in court cases where the technology is used.

License plate readers, NIBIN (a federal database that identifies bullets from casings), and ShotSpotter: all parts of a larger JSO strategy to fight old crime patterns with new technology and techniques.

ShotSpotter and NIBIN can be married to video surveillance; the goal is for a holistic, surveillance-based solution.

“Really, the sky’s the limit as far as the technology goes,” Connor said.

“Seems to me that if you’re going to catch people, marrying it to video technology” would be the move, said Councilman Bill Gulliford.

While Gulliford noted that this could be expensive, it’s worth it to save lives, he said.

Councilwoman Katrina Brown, who represents one of the areas served by the program, noted that ShotSpotter would give law enforcement tangible data that they can use to go to homes and buildings from which shots could have been fired and ask occupants questions.

Kim Daniels files ShotSpotter appropriations bill

The city of Jacksonville, plagued by gun violence in certain parts of the city, has gotten behind ShotSpotter technology as a solution.

And a former city councilwoman turned state legislator, freshman Rep. Kim Daniels, has filed a bill to augment the city’s $435,000 investment in the pilot program.

House Bill 2703 would allocate $325,000 for Jacksonville’s two-year pilot program of the ShotSpotter technology, which detects gunshots after they are fired.

The initial deployment of the program, a priority of the Lenny Curry administration, would be in a five square mile area of Health Zone 1.

While she was on the Jacksonville City Council, Daniels was among the more creative members when it came to attempting to stop the violence.

Among her suggestions: a 9:00 p.m juvenile curfew.

ShotSpotter allocation clears first Jacksonville City Council committee

Funds for a pilot “ShotSpotter” program were approved by the Jacksonville City Council’s Neighborhoods, Community Investments, and Services committee Tuesday.

The allocation will have to be approved by two other committees, Public Health and Safety and Finance, before being considered by the full council next week.

The $435,000 allocation was part of a larger package of $1.356 million of unused capital improvement funds that will be funneled into a variety of projects.

The mayor’s chief of staff, Kerri Stewart, advised stakeholders in an internal email to expect questions in committees related to the Jacksonville Journey. This seemed to be especially salient advice, given the criticisms by NCIS committee chair Scott Wilson of the formula for Jacksonville Journey allocations.

The program, which identifies the source of gunshots, will be rolled out in a 5 square mile area in Health Zone 1, the part of the city that has the most gun violence.

No questions emerged in committee, suggesting a smooth glide path for this through the committees.

ShotSpotter gets its shot in Jacksonville council panels

For the second straight cycle, the Jacksonville City Council is running its committees on a Tuesday — Thursday cycle — a consequence of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The council mulls a series of bills ahead of next week’s meeting, starting bright and early Tuesday morning in the Neighborhoods, Community Investments, and Services Committee.

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ShotSpotter gets its shot: Ordinance 2016-795 will, among other things, “appropriate $435,001 already allocated in a ShotSpotter reserve account to an equipment purchase account for installation of the test site … acoustic gunshot detection and surveillance technology in a 5 square mile area of Health Zone 1.”

Why is this significant? Because that 5 square mile area of the area is the one most ravaged by gun violence and the associated social maladies that accompany it.

Mayor Lenny Curry‘s chief of staff, Kerri Stewart, emailed stakeholders with her expectations as to how the bill might proceed through its three committees of reference: the Neighborhoods, Community Investments, and Services Committee on Tues. Jan. 17; the Public Health and Safety Committee on the 18th; and Finance on the 19th.

Stewart’s advice: expect questions about the Jacksonville Journey anti-crime initiative, rebooted by Mayor Curry early in his term.

“We are not anticipating any/many specific questions related to ShotSpotter; but the committees are chaired by CM Scott Wilson (NCIS), CM Sam Newby (PHS), and CW Anna Brosche (Finance).  All three council members/chairs have specific interest in the Jacksonville Journey and so some questions may inevitably come up,” Stewart noted.

Wilson, the chair of NCIS, has raised questions about the Jacksonville Journey allocations, noting that the breakdown of funds by ZIP code obscures pockets of real need for the program in his Southside Jacksonville district.

ShotSpotter allocations will be the highlight of a light agenda in NCIS.

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Affordable housing parcels: Jacksonville, like many cities, faces a two-pronged problem: a surplus of vacant or abandoned homes, and a shortage of affordable housing.

A bill considered Tuesday in NCIS and Thursday in Finance seeks to resolve that — to a point — as 101 parcels of surplus property in Council Districts 7 — 10 and 14 are to be made available to developers for the purpose of producing affordable housing.

The total value of these properties: just over $783,000, ranging from a vacant lot valued at $140 (a great gift idea) to a single family home valued at just under $60,000.

Community housing development organizations get the first crack at these properties as long as the CHDOs don’t have liens; CHDOs are allowed to handle five at a time.

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Resolution to honor Richard Danford: The Rules Committee on Wednesday afternoon will consider a resolution to honor Danford, the head of the Jacksonville Urban League.

The timing is interesting; Danford, when speaking at Friday’s MLK Breakfast, did what some speakers wouldn’t due and addressed policy outcomes rather than the importance of volunteering.

Danford urged the city to focus on remedying disparities, via taking a hard look at disparity studies, and the “allocation and distribution of city funds,” including contracts and employment for minorities.

These efforts, said Danford, would “reduce poverty and crime in this community … stir business development and create more jobs in communities of color.”

Danford also alluded to Rules Chairman Garrett Dennis‘ “equal opportunity” bill, saying that the city’s independent authorities, such as JEA and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, “should reflect the diversity in the community.”

Dennis’ bill — which he stresses is not a “quota” or “affirmative action” proposal — requires the city to actually fund a position that has gone unfunded for several years now.

That position would offer oversight for city agencies to ensure that certain ethnic groups — a category which varies not just from agency to agency, but department to department — are represented in department demographics.

Dennis’ bill requires annual reporting to the Mayor and City Council on the progress and state of the Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Program; budgetary line-item for the position of Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Assistant Director; and an “annual review” of “adherence and commitment” to the ordinance.

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Foreign Direct Investment strategy discussed: On Thursday, the Finance Committee considers a memorandum of understanding between the city and JAXUSA (a partnership of the local Chamber of Commerce) to devise a foreign direct investment strategy and to manage an “export enhancement plan initiative.”

The export plan is part of a process that began in 2013, when Jacksonville was one of just eight cities in the Brookings Institution’s global cities initiative, and comes after years of study.

“The MOU calls for JAXUSA to establish a “one-stop shop” to provide interested businesses with information, research and assistance in developing export activities; to create a Global Cities Advocacy Team to lead the implementation effort; to conduct outreach activities to at least 25 potential export businesses,” reads the bill summary.

It is a $60,000 deal for one year, with provisions for renewal.

Jacksonville mayor, sheriff’s office prepare for ShotSpotter legislation

Emails between senior staff in the Jacksonville mayor’s and sheriff’s offices offer a unique look at how legislation is nurtured through the process.

The subject of the emails: the ShotSpotter technology that Jacksonville leaders have touted as a possible corrective to the hail of gunshots in high-crime areas.

Ordinance 2016-795 will, among other things, “appropriate $435,001 already allocated in a ShotSpotter reserve account to an equipment purchase account for installation of the test site … acoustic gunshot detection and surveillance technology in a 5 square mile area of Health Zone 1.”

Health Zone 1 encompasses five Jacksonville Journey zip codes, including 32209, which was described by the Florida Times-Union as “Jacksonville’s killing fields.”

Mayor Lenny Curry‘s chief of staff, Kerri Stewart, emailed stakeholders with her expectations as to how the bill might proceed through its three committees of reference: the Neighborhoods, Community Investments, and Services committee on Tues. Jan. 17; the Public Health and Safety committee on the 18th; and Finance on the 19th.

Stewart’s advice: expect questions relative to the Jacksonville Journey anti-crime initiative, rebooted by Mayor Curry early in his term.

“We are not anticipating any/many specific questions related to ShotSpotter; but the committees are chaired by CM Scott Wilson (NCIS) CM Sam Newby (PHS) and CW Anna Brosche (Finance).  All 3 councilmembers/chairs have specific interest in the Jacksonville Journey and so some questions may inevitably come up,” Stewart noted.

Those questions won’t waylay the legislation, however: “Upon successful passage of the bill in the 3 committees, the entire Council will take up the legislation for final passage on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.”

JSO, meanwhile, feels confident enough to begin the procurement process.

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