With the help of a local assemblyman, a high-tech tool used to fight crime is returning to Huntington Station.
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney (R) and state Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Dix HIlls) held a press conference at the DA’s office on July 8 to announce that Suffolk County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct will once again be utilizing ShotSpotter. The system detects where a gun is fired and then relays the information to local law enforcement.
It will be relaunched in Huntington Station, which was chosen due to a spike in gun violence in that community.
The DA’s office will receive a $250,000 county grant for the system. Tierney appeared before the Suffolk County Legislature to request funding for a countywide program in June to which Stern immediately responded.
“The money that Assemblyman Stern has given us will save lives,” Tierney said. “ShotSpotter will prevent shootings, because criminals will know that the police will be there in near minutes. Quick response by police will also allow police to quickly render aid to any victims.”
He added the technology will help the DA’s office to start its investigations earlier. Tierney said that while it’s not “a cure-all,” ShotSpotter is a tool in an overall approach.
As part of a $1 million public safety package, Stern also secured $500,000 for the DA’s office to enhance and update electronic surveillance equipment; $250,000 for the SCPD to purchase mobile plate readers; and $10,000 for Tierney’s office from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant. The latter funds can be used at the DA’s discretion for law enforcement, prosecution and crime prevention matters.
Stern thanked community members for their input, including Erica Rimmer who lost her son Luis Cameron Rimmer-Hernandez last summer when he was shot and killed. Rimmer and her family were in attendance at Friday’s press conference.
“I will always be the first to say that the best ideas always come from my neighbors, and that’s what makes today so important,” the assemblyman said. “This is an effort, really from all of us, particularly our district attorney, who has made it his business — and that of his outstanding staff — to go out to the community and learn from residents what’s important to them.”
He added Suffolk County residents value quality of life and public safety.
“That means that we must always have the most-qualified local law enforcement,” Stern said. “We must always have the very best trained public-safety officials. That also means that it’s imperative to have the most advanced and cutting-edge technology, which is such an important part of fighting crime today and going forward into the future.”
The county eliminated funding for ShotSpotter in 2018. At the time, it was deemed ineffective; however, technology has advanced significantly, according to Tierney. The DA added that the system now uses an app, where the ShotSpotter notification will go straight to a squad card instead of a call going to a dispatcher. The police officers will be given a map with directions, number of shots, location, and the system can provide the elevation of shots.
Tierney said that 50% of all shootings between 2019 and 2022 occurred in 22 square miles in Suffolk spread out over nine areas in the county. In addition to Huntington Station, the communities are Wyandanch, Brentwood, Central Islip, Bay Shore, Gordon Heights, Mastic Beach, North Bellport and North Amityville and represent 10% of Suffolk. He said the hope is to extend the ShotSpotter system to every such area in the 22 square miles.
“We want to provide safety for all of the citizens in those communities,” he said.