• Sheriff Mike Williams: ShotSpotter could expand across city's Westside

    By: Action News Jax , Jamarlo Phillips

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams is considering whether to expand a program that allows police to know exactly where someone fired a gun, even if no one calls 911.

    Right now, the technology from the company ShotSpotter is on the city's Westside. It’s been there since 2017.


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    It's a system used to detect when gunshots are fired, and it could start helping more local neighborhoods.

    “Every time we hear a gunshot, we see a police car,” said Williams.

    Williams says the system can alert police within 45 seconds.

    Action News Jax has been reporting on the technology used on the Westside over the last two years.

    Police monitor hidden microphones across a 5-mile area.

    “We let the data drive where we need to use the system,” Williams said.

    “It just continues every day, and it’s crazy. It’s like no end,” Constance Simmons added.

    The system has been used for the same amount of time Simmons has been living here.

    “I don’t know if it’s working to find the perpetrators who has been doing all of the shootings, they’re probably going to have to do a lot of work,” she said.

    But Sheriff Williams says it works.

    “We’ve made arrests, officers responding, getting there so quickly, apprehending someone,” Williams explained.

    Director of ShotSpotter Steve Carter says the system has already proved effective here.

    ”They’re not treating it as 'Did I make a lot of arrests right away?' They’re focusing on 'How I can reduce those people who are causing the most terror in a neighborhood?'” Carter said.

    It costed the city $325,000 to adopt ShotSpotter. The sheriff believes it could soon expand into other neighborhoods across the city’s west side.

    “Whether it’s a bigger footprint in the northwest part of the city or whether it’s something in that 103rd Street and north area, we’ve had some challenges, and there is opportunity for some expansion,” Williams said.

    For Simmons, the expansion is worth a try.

    “You can only try. Nothing beats a failure but to try, that’s what they say,” said Simmons.

    Williams says there have been fewer shootings in the neighborhood where the system is already in place.

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