QUEENS — A Jamaica precinct which has historically struggled with gun violence and gangs now has a new tool to fight crime.
The system, which has already been placed in the 113th Precinct in South Jamaica, as well as several other precincts in The Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island, uses audio sensors to detect the sound of gunfire, helping police officers respond to violence quickly even if there wasn't a 911 call, officials said.
The technology, which is able to determine the location of the sound within 82 feet, picks up various types of loud noise, including fireworks, “but in most cases it’s 80 percent accurate,” said Inspector John Cappelmann, commanding officer of the 103rd Precinct, at a community council meeting Tuesday night.
The program comes to the precinct as the number of shootings and major crimes in the up-and-coming neighborhood declined to a record low, police officials said.
This year, there have been only four shootings in the 103rd Precinct, according to statistics provided by the NYPD for the period from Jan 1. to April 30.
“From 2009 to 2013, we typically averaged 37 shooting incidents, when someone was actually shot within the confines of the 103rd [Precinct] during the year,” Cappelmann said.
In 2014, the precinct recorded 18 shootings. In 2015, that number dropped to 17, he noted.
This year, in the first three months, there was only one shooting, “which is tremendous,” he said.
However, two people got shot in two separate incidents in April, Cappelmann said.
One of the incidents took place on April 18, around 6 p.m. on the corner of 109th Avenue and Merrick Boulevard, when a 37-year-old man was shot in the leg during a dispute that erupted as several men were gambling and throwing the dice, Cappelmann said.
The victim, who had 45 prior arrests, is not cooperating and no arrests have been made in the case as of Tuesday night, police said.
The second incident occurred on April 22 around 4:15 a.m. inside Shake and Burger at 147-01 Liberty Ave. The entire incident was caught on video, which shows the suspect getting into a verbal argument with the victim and other patrons, then leaving the eatery only to return minutes later with a gun and shooting the victim in the stomach, before fleeing, officials said.
The victim was rushed to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition. Police were able to track the car that the suspect drove to his girlfriend and are now looking for him, Cappelmann said.
The ShotSpotter system also detected another shooting incident which took place at 106-57 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. last month and was not reported via 911. Investigators recovered several 45-caliber shell casings at the location, but the circumstances of the incident remain unclear, officials said.
The precinct has seen a 15 percent decrease in overall crime, with burglaries declining 35 percent, from 155 last year to 133 this year, and robberies falling 26 percent from 123 last year to 91 this year, according to statistics provided by the NYPD.