The City of Newburgh has voted (6-1) at the September 14 Council Meeting to continue using ShotSpotter, a “precision policing solution that helps save lives, deter crime, and make communities safer,” for the rest of 2020.
The resolution authorizes the City Manager to execute an agreement with SST, Inc. for ShotSpotter Flex Services subscription for the remainder of the year.
ShotSpotter expired back in February of 2020 and SST, Inc “was kind enough to work with the City and not incur any additional fees while we work through this process,” explained City Manager Joseph Donat.
To continue using ShotSpotter from now until the end of December, it costs the city $49,500 for a 3.2 square mile coverage area.
The council voted (6-1) to transfer the $49,500 from the general fund balance to general fund - police department repairs/other equipment for the ShotSpotter subscription.
Last week ShotSpotter was activated four to five times and gunfire was confirmed by the Newburgh Police Department. There were no victims of gun violence this past week.
ShotSpotter detects gunfire with strategically placed acoustic sensors, which are able to capture the time and audio associated with impulsive sounds.
“Last season we had a very robust debate about whether or not we should keep ShotSpotter,” explained Councilmember Karen Meija. “We heard from the public as well and there is heavy support for ShotSpotter. It is an additional tool that we have.”
SNUG, guns spelled backward, is a anti-violence organization in Newburgh that works to prevent shootings in the community.
“I feel the money would be best used instead of reporting the shots, stopping the shots,” said Councilmember Omari Shakur, who voted against the renewal of ShotSpotter. “How can we stop these shots?”
Meija suggested that “this can be another tool that is utilized in SNUG’s strategy,” by following up in the areas that ShotSpotter reports gun fire.
However, Shakur emphasized his belief that the money be used for preventive actions instead of a reactive one.
Additionally, they discussed whether or not to renew ShotSpotter into 2021.
ShotSpotter offered the City three renewal options. The first one was a year-long contract at the price of $195,000, which they have paid for the last several years. The other two options were for two or three years at $148,000.
They would be billed annually for the multi-year rates.
Councilmembers were weary of committing to more than two years due to budgeting issues.
“To me saddling the City with a three year contract – that option is definitely not one that I want to pursue in a discussion,” said Meija. “It’s really about option one or option two.”
Councilmember Anthony Grice said he tended “to agree with Councilmember Meija, especially if the financing is coming out of the Police Department’s budget.”
The cost would “most certainly come out of their budget,” said Donat. It didn’t come out of their budget prior because it wasn’t budgeted for.
The long-term renewal has not been decided on yet, as it was only a discussion item.