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IMPD gunshot detection pilot program enters final phase

Police and researchers with IUPUI will determine if the technology is worth a permanent investment in Indy.

INDIANAPOLIS — A trial run for technology that detects gunshots in Indianapolis is now being put to the test.

IMPD's gunshot detection system pilot program is now entering its final phase.

Police and researchers with IUPUI will determine if the technology is worth a permanent investment in Indy. It's been used a lot over the past couple of months.

When a half-dozen homes got shot up on North Hamilton avenue last week, Konner Walbridge heard it, hid for safety, and called police.

"You can see here, it kind of went through my living room as well," Walbridge pointed out on the side of his home. "All my neighbors were lucky it didn't get worse, but you never should like feel, that you're lucky you didn't get shot in your own home."

Officers responded right away, but not from a 911 call.

Special sensors were listening to gunfire in the neighborhood, too. They're devices that detect gunshots and send alerts straight to officers' laptops.

"We've seen it now multiple times utilized and specifically in this incident it was key in getting the officers here quickly," IMPD Major Mike Leepper said the night of the drive-by shooting.

Credit: WTHR

For the past nine weeks, IMPD's been testing this technology in a five-mile radius on the near east side.

Three different vendors got three weeks each.

The pilot program just wrapped up Monday morning and the city is now getting feedback.

"Now we go to the officers and say, 'What is your experience with this?'" IMPD Commander Matthew Thomas explained.

They want to know if gunshot sensors actually improve safety, create quicker officer response and lead to finding suspects and more specific locations of gunfire than if they didn't use the system at all.

"It's what worked, what didn't work and what do we know about this technology that we didn't know before," Thomas said.

Along with officer interviews, researchers from IUPUI will go over data from every gunshot detected and analyze the results.

"Were we there more quickly to render aid to people that were involved in gunshot incidents? Were we there more quickly to secure the scene," Thomas said.

And while there's no easy solution for reducing gun violence, some neighbors expressed that they felt safer with sensors.

"It's just another tool to help the community and police pinpoint where something's actually going on," one neighbor told 13News about the sensors in his neighborhood.

We'll learn if those feelings are backed up by facts by early next year. 

IMPD says data will be analyzed over the next few weeks. In the next few months, the findings will be presented to the city, which will decide if gunshot detection will be a part of Indy's public safety strategy in the future.

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