- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Gunshot detection cameras installed in Wilmington in 2012 haven’t recorded a single shooting scene, officials said.

The News Journal reports (https://delonline.us/NdSqAf ) that the city council will hold a hearing Monday on a plan to spend $415,000 over three years to lease a new system.

The current system, SENTRI, is meant to turn a camera toward the sound of a gunshot to capture the scene. In the 15 months SENTRI has operated, 175 people have been shot. But interim police Chief Bobby Cummings says SENTRI has only detected gunshots five or six times and the one time cameras turned toward a shot, foliage blocked the view.

“SENTRI is not working properly and people are getting killed,” said Councilman Mike Brown Sr., head of the Public Safety Committee. “It’s not living up to its billing.”

Wilmington and nonprofit Downtown Visions began building a surveillance camera system in 2001 and there are now about 91 cameras in the city, including 18 SENTRI cameras. The SENTRI cameras, which were placed in high-crime areas, are functioning properly, but their range is only about 500 feet and they may be too far from gunfire, police said.

In 2008, Delaware officials sought a $1.5 million federal grant to get state police, Wilmington and Dover the ShotSpotter system, which triangulates a blast’s origin and sends alerts, but the grant awarded the next year was just $250,000.

Officials decided Wilmington would be the first place to install ShotSpotter, but a panel decided the best option for gunshot detection was SENTRI. The 18 cameras only covered a small portion of the city, but they were all the city could afford.

Wilmington doesn’t plan to expand SENTRI beyond the pilot phase, Cummings said, noting that he endorses ShotSpotter.

“It’s going to be more expansive than we have now,” Cummings said. “We’re going to have a large part of the city covered.”


Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., https://www.delawareonline.com

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