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IMPD ending gunshot detection system plans, plan to use funding elsewhere

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Posted at 11:30 AM, Mar 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-28 19:55:57-04

INDIANAPOLIS — On Thursday, IMPD Chief Chris Bailey announced the department does not plan to continue with using gunshot detection technology.

Chief Bailey says he decided not to move forward with the gunshot detection system because it wasn’t cost effective for the results it was giving.

He says instead, $1,012,445 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding set aside for the system will be used to upgrade the entire departments tasers.

"Our current technology with tasers is outdated,” Chief Bailey said. “IMPD's current tasers are only about 50% effective, that's because you have to have two good connections, good spots on the body to make sure that connection works.”

He says the new tasers will better equip officers and allow them to de-escalate a situation from a further distance.

“So, if we have someone armed with something other than a handgun, machete or knife, this tool allows us to bring a peaceful end without using deadly force from a further distance,” he said.

WATCH | From 2022: Gunshot detection being analyzed

IMPD gunshot detection system data being analyzed

Gunshot detection systems were placed across the east side of Indianapolis. IMPD tested the software during a 9-week pilot program.

“There were some successes we saw within the program but nothing that makes me say we have to have it in the city,” Chief Bailey said. “Even if we did decide to move forward, it was going to be such a small area that I don’t know if the results would have helped us move forward in the way we need.”

Bailey says the technology the department has now is working and they want to expand on it.

The department found officers that responded to the shot spotters received about the same evidence as information received from 911 calls.

“Gunshot detection is an expensive technology. We have 400 square miles, so [we’re] looking for things we can sustain long-term,” Chief Bailey said.

The extra tools to detect crime in the community brought mixed emotions for east siders.

Moving forward, Chief Bailey says IMPD is focusing on investments in technology, like the need to add video storage from cameras, more transparent data and extend its real-time crime center to 24 hours.

"I think those are more worthy investments at this point," he said.

Chief Bailey says he’s had conversations with community members about the decision to upgrade the entire department’s tasers.

“They know this technology is coming. They support ways for us to look to reduce officer involved shootings," Chief Bailey said. “Our officers deserve the best equipment.”

He also stressed it will take more than technology to reduce gun violence in the city.

"We have to be better," Chief Bailey said. "We will not tolerate violent crime in our community and if you're going to be part of that, officers will do all they can to hold you accountable."

The Indy FOP released the following statement regarding IMPD's decision:

Today (3/28/2024) we learned of the final decision by the IMPD to scrap the implementation of a Gunshot Detection System for the Capital City.

This component was a key piece to the overall technology package called for by the FOP in January 2019.

We believe this decision is short sighted and flawed.

As funded, such a move could have provided a total of five (5) square miles of coverage.

Our recommendation provided multiple footprints throughout the city.

For example, the mile-square to cover downtown Indianapolis. 

Additionally coverage could have been provided over other locations such as: Broad Ripple, Fountain Square, 10th/Rural area, Irvington, the Far East Side, and the 38th Street and 82nd Street corridors.

These locations are known for tourism, high pedestrian/vehicular traffic, and densely populated neighborhoods which have also been concurrent with crimes involving guns and the threat of mass attacks.

It is our hope elected and appointed leaders of Indianapolis will reconsider this technology resource moving forward.