The city of Hartford already uses a real-time acoustic device to detect the sound of gunshots as a way to help solve crimes. Now, the city wants to use it also to identify children who may need help processing the trauma from gun violence.
“Lives are lost all too often in the city of Hartford and cities like Hartford,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said. “It’s not just those lives that are lost. We don’t often pay enough attention to identifying those kids who have been affected and to make sure they get the support that they need.”
The city’s partnership with Shotspotter anchors a plan to win a $5 million grant from a philanthropic group led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The full grant will go to the city that can best use innovation to tackle a challenge the city faces.
Bronin said his plan is not just about solving crimes related to gun violence, but taking it a step further to treat children in areas where a traumatic event happened.
Shotspotter workers monitor sounds from the device, triangulate where it comes from, and then alert the police. Before the city put the technology in place, Deputy Chief Brian Foley of the Hartford Police Department said 80 percent of cases where shots were fired went unreported.
“Now, with Shotspotter, it’s getting us to within a foot to where we’re finding shell-casings,” Foley said. “We’ve all stood at crime scenes. We’ve all put up yellow tape. We look at the person shot there. You look at the blood on the street and everyone is looking at us, but we look back at the people. And you see kids playing with their toys—playing with their cars—10 feet from where a homicide occurs.”
Kim Oliver, the director of the city’s Department of Families, Children, Youth, and Recreation, said targeting geographical areas of gun violence can help Hartford’s 20,000 kids.
“This allows us to get to the root of the issue—to try to prevent the issue and prevent the hurt that ends up coming into our homes, into our children’s lives, into their hearts and also into their minds,” Oliver said.
The city gets at least $100,000 for making it this far in the competition. Bronin said officials have yet to determine exactly how the money will be used.