Holyoke Police Discuss Benefits of Implementing ShotSpotter Technology

Holyoke, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – Controversy surrounding gunshot detection systems has been playing out in Holyoke. Some city leaders said they didn’t think it was the right move for their communities.

The hype for the introduction of ShotSpotter technology to Holyoke came during a city council meeting before a city councillor made controversial comments suggesting the tool would only cause harm to the people of Holyoke.

City leaders in Holyoke are considering adding ShotSpotter technology to the police department’s crime-fighting tools. However, some city councillors don’t think it’s the best move.

At a city council meeting in early September, Jose Maldonado Velez said the tool would only cause harm to the community.

“When I think about using this tool again to send more police into the community, it doesn’t work for me. It’s not about protecting our people. It’s really not because that’s not what the police are there for. The police haven’t been there for us in a long time. community protects us,” said City Councilman Maldonado Velez. “We no longer need any tools to provide them.”

However, the Holyoke Police Department said his claims were not true and said they believed the technology would really help their department.

“ShotSpotter notifies the local police department that the firearm has been used, the location and the type of weapon used, so we’ll have a better response time to catch these criminals,” Holyoke Police Captain Matthew Moriarty said.

This comes at a particularly violent time in the city, with crime on the rise. There have been five murders in Holyoke this year.

“Our city has suffered a dramatic uptick in violent crime over the past two months,” Captain Moriarty told us. “These criminals committed five different murders, ended five lives, and broke the hearts of so many family and friends.”

Western Mass News contacted the Springfield Police Department, which has used ShotSpotter technology for over a decade. Deputy Commissioner Stephen Kent shared with us the exact recording they had on their phone with the technology and said it had significantly improved their response time.

“Seconds matter when it comes to shooting victims,” ​​Deputy Commissioner Kent said. “Seconds matter when it comes to apprehending a suspect.”

He told us that this technology has saved countless lives in Springfield, who would not have known about 70% of the shootings in the city without it.

“No 911 calls were reported, which means 70 percent of people didn’t call,” Deputy Commissioner Kent told CNN. “So, without ShotSpotter, our officers wouldn’t know where to respond, or what they were driving into.”

He added that the technology was not discriminatory and would only tell police when a shot was fired.

“The mic doesn’t see color,” Deputy Commissioner Kent said. “They didn’t know who was behind it. All it did was bring the police to where the shots were fired.”

The Holyoke Police Department has asked Councilman Maldonado Velez to publicly apologize for his remarks at a city council meeting.

CNN has reached out to Assemblyman Maldonado Velez for further comment but has yet to hear back.

ShotSpotter discussion has been submitted to another meeting of Holyoke City Council.

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