INDIANAPOLIS — It was just after midnight Sunday morning when the familiar sound of gunshots rang out through the near east side of Indianapolis.
”Just last Saturday night, around 50 gunshots roughly around the women’s prison area, and the reports that they were coming in was from a couple blocks away,” said Chris Staab in the 900 block of North Oakland Avenue.
Responding officers later found 37 shell casings from at least four different guns sprinkled on the ground in the 200 block of Hendricks Place, where neighbors reported a loud party was going on.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has identified a five-square-mile area not far from the intersection of East 10th Street and North Rural Street as the site for a test of three gunshot detection systems intended to give police and first responders an audio record of where gunfire is breaking out.
”We are overlapping the vendors purposely so that we can make sure we are collecting data and compare the results from each of the vendors,” said IMPD Commander Matt Thomas.
Over the course of the next 11 weeks, the competing vendors will provide gunfire data that researchers at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis will analyze to help IMPD determine which system would be most effective in identifying gunshots in the area.
”What is the response time of a shot detection versus a 911 caller? Does it change? Does it allow us to get in an area sooner to render medical aid? Does it allow us to detect incidents of shots fired where no one called?” said Thomas. ”This is different than glass breaking, car screeching, door slamming. The vendors tell us they’ve been able to identify the difference in those sound signatures.”
By the end of the year, the trial will be completed, and the department will begin the process of determining which system to invest in.
The near eastside was the site of 12% of all homicides and 18% of all non-fatal shootings in Indianapolis in 2021.
”It would be impractical to do the entire city,” said Staab. “You would then want to maybe focus on some of the hotspot areas, and unfortunately my neighborhood happened to be one that had the worst data.
”I think it’s a great plan knowing we have a lot of gunshots fired in this neighborhood, and the fact that probably 80% of the gunshots that are reported aren’t reported.”