The Louisville Metro Police Department is continuing to pursue a gunshot detection system.
Department officials on Wednesday announced via Facebook they’re now accepting bids from vendors that offer the technology.
Gunshot detection systems incorporate an array of acoustic sensors affixed to elevated structures to, essentially, listen for the bang of gunfire. When a shot is detected, the cloud-based software can alert police.
Police officials in Louisville began lobbying for the funding to purchase the technology earlier this year. It’s unclear just how much the system will cost, but some Louisville Metro Council members say they’ll support the acquisition.
Earlier this year, the Metro Council allotted more than $200,000 to the police department to boost surveillance efforts. That funding is being used at the discretion of Chief Steve Conrad, who announced in September the department would begin the process of purchasing a gunshot detection system.
The move comes as the city is on the brink of recording it’s highest homicide tally in history. And while police and city legislators tout the program for its potential to quell crime, it’s not without critics.
A report from investigative news outlet Reveal found that in San Francisco the gunshot detection system alerted police to more than 3,000 gunshots during a two-year period, but it resulted in just two arrests — only one of which was gun-related.
And police officials in Charlotte stopped using the system after it failed to produce arrests, according to the report.
Lt. Josh Judah of LMPD’s technical services unit told a Metro Council committee earlier this year that the technology is more useful for allowing officers to “better understand the networks of people using illegal weapons on the street and how that ties into other crimes.”
Responding to more shooting incidents, and doing so more quickly, can help officers gather evidence and talk to more witnesses, he said.
“This is a tool that you use as part of an overall strategy to combat gun violence,” Judah said. “They’re not a cure-all.”
The police department will accept bids through early December. The installation of the program is expected to begin next year.
A gunshot detection system would fall in line with a handful of technology initiatives currently being utilized by LMPD.
Earlier this year, the department finalized an effort to equip officers with body-worn cameras. Prior to that, police and city leaders opened a crime information center, where civilian employees can monitor a range of cameras positioned across the city.
And a WFPL News investigation earlier this month found the department has expanded it’s ability to conduct mass surveillance of online social media users.