Another shooting in District 3 this week. Sadly, similar incidents occur across Orange County every week. Proactive measures must be taken and the Board of Orange County Commissioners MUST take the lead. Crime is “down” when it’s not in your neighborhood. While crime statistics indicate a downward trend in crime in general, law enforcement agencies in Orange County continue to face violent crimes using firearms.
Ask yourself WHY Orange County does not have ShotSpotter Flex™ and/or ShotSpotter Secure Campus™ when gun violence is occurring in and around our neighborhoods and schools. While a candidate in 2016, I introduced ShotSpotter™ to Orange County in 2015 because I could see a trend developing. I want every one of our residents and visitors to know that I will continue to advocate for ShotSpotter’s deployment again as we head into 2020.
When I am elected as your Orange County Commissioner, I will advocate the purchase of emerging technologies, such as the ShotSpotter Flex™ Gunfire Alert and Analysis Service, to protect the public. ShotSpotter is a proactive measure that will deter shootings and other firearm related crimes. Why hasn’t this been implemented already? Perhaps certain leaders and interested industries do not want the public to know the actual number of instances of firearms being discharged or otherwise used in a violent crime. This needs to change, immediately. By not knowing the actual number of firearms being discharged, the data isn’t present to solve the problem. It’s also entirely possible to claim there isn’t a problem, but when data is present it is impossible to make that claim; as the daily news headlines show. Let’s change that, together.
Statistics reveal that 80% of the time, those shooting incidents never get reported to the police. As a result, there is no law enforcement response, which further fuels the vicious gun violence cycle, lawlessness, and a sense of hopelessness for good people who live in those communities.
Elected officials have a moral obligation to ensure that everyone who lives in Orange County has an opportunity to be free from the fear of gun violence.
Cities Across Florida Adopt ShotSpotter Flex™ and/or ShotSpotter Secure Campus™
These cities benefit and have the desire to tackle the problem, saving lives. The italicized cities were added since the last update of this post, but it wasn’t Orlando, Orange County, FL. Why?
Belle Glade, FL
|Lake Park, FL
Miami Gardens, FL
Palm Beach County, FL
Riviera Beach, FL
West Perrine (Miami Dade County), FL
ShotSpotter – How it Works
The ShotSpotter Flex™ service pinpoints the origination of gunfire using acoustic sensing technology protected by twenty-seven unique patents to identify, discriminate, record and locate gunshots and other explosive events to law enforcement agencies within seconds of the shots being fired from a firearm. The geolocation information of where the shots were fired are electronically sent to a law enforcement officer’s laptop, smartphone, or to the appropriate law enforcement agency for immediate dispatch. I firmly believe investing in ShotSpotter Flex™ will result in substantially decreasing the frequency of gunfire incidents in Orange County, reduce the number of murders with firearms, and decrease the number of nightly news reports of gun violence. The statistics from cities and counties using ShotSpotter demonstrate its effectiveness.
Similarly, ShotSpotter SecureCampus™ uses a wide-area network of acoustic sensors to detect when a gun is fired and then precisely and quickly pinpoints the location of the gunfire. In less than a minute, campus security, police officers and 911 dispatchers are notified of the fully qualified and validated gunfire incidents, even if no one calls 911 – although the community is always encouraged to report sounds of gunfire. By quickly notifying first responders in the unlikely event of gunfire, SecureCampus™ helps speed that response with precise information in order to save lives – much like a fire alarm.
ShotSpotter SecureCampus™ is one of several cutting edge technologies our local public, charter, universities, and colleges can employ to ensure the safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and surrounding community.
Bill Moore Conducts Due Diligence
I have researched and heard numerous testimonials on this crime prevention tool and it needs to be deployed in Orange County. I was afforded the opportunity to see ShotSpotter in action on October 14th and 15th of 2015. I traveled to the Miami Gardens Police Department to attend a training session, which covered proactive and reactive uses of ShotSpotter to solve cases and deter gun violence. Miami Gardens PD has seen an approximate 43% reduction of gun-related violence at that time. Then, on October 15, 2015, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office offered a one-on-one informative session showing how that agency has utilized ShotSpotter to reduce violent crime, involving firearms, in the City of Belle Glade. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has also seen a significant drop in gun related violence. This video provides an overview of how the system works.
ShotSpotter Is Not Cost Prohibitive
The ShotSpotter Flex™ Gunfire Alert and Analysis Service is an annual service, using proprietary hardware, but it is not cost prohibitive. For example, the City of Miami allocated $275,000 annually to cover 4 square miles in three of their most violent neighborhoods. The funds were allocated for the first year as coming from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund, in the amount of $200,000 and from the Community Redevelopment Agency, in the amount of $75,000. The future annual subscription fee is $185,000 for the City of Miami. Other cities received contributions from non-profit organizations and applied for grants to subsidize the cost of ShotSpotter. The total annual cost for this crime prevention measure is $910,250.00 to cover 13.85 miles of the city. The proposal can be seen by clicking here.
How would this look in Orange County? Well, for roughly $1 Million a year the high crime areas would be covered allowing for law enforcement to act proactively and respond efficiently. I have put together a visual using Google Earth on what 13.85 miles would look like covering Orange County. Of course, Orange County’s needs vary from those of the City of Miami; however, let’s compare apples to apples – distance and funding wise. A 13.85 mile coverage may be perfectly acceptable and would include West Orange County, Pine Hills, all the way over to East Orange County to the University of Central Florida main campus and from the City of Maitland south to the Orlando International Airport and beyond International Drive. The partnerships among municipalities in Orange County could greatly offset costs, but make no mistake. Orange County has the revenue necessary to make ShotSpotter a reality. The light purple area denotes the current boundaries of District 3. A lighter green line shows the jurisdictional limits and boundaries of Orange County.
I see violent crime, involving firearms, as a county-wide public safety problem and an issue that should be addressed by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners to lead the way, to be proactive, to encourage law enforcement agencies to participate. Orange County government should fund ShotSpotter in totality using Capital Improvement Funds because we are in need of a proven metropolitan solution that can be deployed quickly and deliver immediate results in reducing violent crime. I foresee Orange County funding the initial purchase of ShotSpotter with windfall funds, like from the $500+ Million recaptured by the Orange County Property Appraiser over the past few years, from Community Redevelopment funds, Special Revenue Funds like the Law Enforcement Trust Fund/Neighborhood Improvement District Fund, contributions from non-profits, existing grants, and future grants. Make no mistake, the sources of funding are there.
I do not believe the Orange County Sheriff’s Office or any other local law enforcement agency is in the position to fund the total start-up cost of ShotSpotter with their existing budgets. This is likely the reason why Orange County does not have this technology in place today. However, I believe each law enforcement agency could contribute a portion of their budget towards the ongoing operation of ShotSpotter along with potential grant funding. It is possible for law enforcement agencies to receive federal grants for funding, but the truth of the matter is the amount of funds awarded in federal grants, along with the number of grants themselves, are dwindling. The good news is that ShotSpotter data can greatly improve the chances of a region getting funds through grants going forward.
It’s time for Orange County government to step up and I will lead the charge to assist law enforcement by funding worthy crime prevention initiatives. Inaction only prolongs the violence occurring in and around our neighborhoods, which will ultimately lead to more senseless injury and death.
For more information about ShotSpotter Flex™ Gunfire Alert and Analysis Service visit www.shotspotter.com.