ShotSpotter, aerial drones give Rockford Police the upper hand in crime investigation

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The Rockford Police Department is on the cutting edge with new technology. Officials hope two recent additions to the department’s investigative tools will eventually curtail crime and save time: ShotSpotter and the city’s new aerial drones are giving officers the upper hand.

ShotSpotter is just one piece of technology that helps officers fight crime and deter shootings.

“Every officer has this on their phone if they want it,” said Assistant Deputy Chief Andre Brass. “They do have access on their computer. It’s just a good technological force multiplier for us.”

Utilized on a laptop or cellphone, Brass says ShotSpotter has proven to be a big success since being implemented two months ago. The technology, which uses listening posts placed throughout the city, helps officers respond to gunshots as soon as they’re fired.

In a recent incident on Horsman and Locust Streets, on-duty officers received the alert as to where the shots were detected and officers were dispatched within seconds.

They’re even able to get an audio recording of the gunfire.

Sergeant David Nicosia said, “Take, for example, the ShotSpotter. That, in turn, could bring officers to a shooting scene where we may roll out the drone to investigate that scene and get aerial photos and a more precise investigation.”

The new police drones can record every piece of a crime scene, gathering photographic evidence and giving officers a new set of eyes from above.

“We get a different perspective because we are doing it from a higher angle than just standing at ground level,” Crime Scene Detective Bryce Lambrecht said.

Take a major traffic crash, for example.

“We make sure we have a pilot on hand,” Lambrecht continues. “We have a visual observer on hand, so we always have two sets of eyes in the sky conducting the drone when it’s up in the sky. Then we start doing our work.”

Officers typically process the scene with hand-held measuring tools, but that’s changing.

“The way we are doing it, currently, could take up to five or six hours, depending on the complexity of the scene and the intersection and what-not,” Sgt. Nicosia said. “With the drone, we could shave that in half, or more, and maybe even less than two hours. So, it’s a huge time saver.”

“The technology is working together and it’s a huge time saver and a huge investigative benefit to the police department,” Sgt. Nicosia added.

The police department’s drones were donated to the city and did not come out of the department’s budget.

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