INDIANAPOLIS — IMPD confirms an area on the east side will be used as a testing ground for gunshot detection systems. It’s a part of a pilot program for the city to look into investing in the technology.
We first told you about this Wednesday night after finding the area labeled in the Request for Information document about the gun shot detection systems on the city website.
The area is boxed in by Massachusetts Ave. and E 21st St. to the North, Emerson Ave. to the East, East Washington St. to the South and N Oriental St. to the West.
“We play a game here, is this shots or fireworks,” said Chris Staab, the president of the Near East Side Community Organization.
A good portion of the area he serves is in the pilot area for the gunshot detection systems. Staab is looking forward to the benefits of the system.
”At least, it would get first responders to a scene a lot faster,” Staab said.
He and Fredrick Boyd Jr., the Senior Pastor at Zion Unity Baptist Church on the east side, both are looking forward to the technology being tested out in their area.
”With all the shots that are being fired in our community, I think this will be a great place to start and see how well it works,” Boyd said. “Again, we’re not saying we’re going to have less homicides, we are saying we may have a better response time.”
In 2021, 10 percent of all gun homicides in Indianapolis happened in the roughly five square mile area that will now be used to test gunshot detection technology.
In conjunction with the gunshot detection systems, IMPD will use public safety cameras and license plate readers. A spokesperson said together these tools help IMPD track the people or vehicles in the area when shots were fired. This helps to arrest those pulling the trigger and get illegal guns off the streets.
”We definitely have to get these guns off the streets, if you want to stop violence you have to get rid of these guns and those who think the right thing to do is shooting someone,” Boyd said.
However, other are concerned about the effectiveness of this technology and how it can be used to watch the community.
”They turn communities into surveilled, outdoor prisons and it can have a cumulative oppressive effect on communities,” said Jane Henegar, the executive director of ACLU of Indiana.
Henegar said the two main concerns of the ACLU when it comes to gunshot detection systems are how these technologies are primarily put in minority communities and how the technology can be used to watch the people who live in the area.
”Technology like this, having cameras on your street, having readers that clock your comings and goings, can have an oppressive effect on individuals and we have to be mindful of the impact this surveillance has on all community residents,” Henegar said.
Both Boyd and Staab said they aren’t worried about the possible surveillance and believe the technology will only be used for public safety.
”I don’t see it being used the wrong way, they’re in public areas they’re in high traffic areas. As far as I am concerned, we need those and we need probably more than what we have,” Staab said.
Henegar said throughout this pilot program IMPD needs to be as open as possible about what data this system is gathering, where it is stored and what it is being used for.
”The government needs to be very open to us about what the costs of this technology both in dollars and in our civil liberties and what are the benefits,” she said.
An IMPD spokesperson said these tools are tailored to be used for public safety services, not surveilling the community.
According to IMPD, the next step in the process will be answering additional questions that the gunshot detection system vendors have about the pilot program. Those answers will be made public.