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City will use device to detect location of gunfire

A high-tech device capable of detecting and pinpointing the location of gunfire will be operating in certain sections of Buffalo within the next two months, city and federal officials announced Tuesday.

Called ShotSpotter, the device has about 15 listening sensors per square mile that are programmed to register the sound of gunfire and determine where it is coming from -- all within a minute before alerting police, sometimes long before 911 calls are received.

The system is being brought to Buffalo courtesy of the FBI for a one-year trial so that the city can decide whether it wants to enter into an installation contract with ShotSpotter, a California company, or one of its competitors, Mayor Byron W. Brown said at a news conference in Buffalo Police Headquarters.

In communities elsewhere in the country, the technology has been credited with substantially lowering the number of shootings because it serves as a deterrent.

Richard W. Kollmar, acting special agent in charge of the FBI's Buffalo office, said the system is capable of determining the number of shots fired and the type of gun.

"The technology is not only state of the art, but it's technology for the good guys. It puts us one step ahead," said Kollmar, whose office arranged to have one of two ShotSpotter systems that the FBI owns placed in Buffalo.

Though the locations for the system will remain secret to avoid alerting criminals, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said that in areas where ShotSpotter sensors are near city surveillance cameras, the two systems will be wired into each other, turning the cameras in the direction of the shooting.

e-mail: lmichel@buffnews.com