Chandler PD addressing gunshots in Galveston - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler PD addressing gunshots in Galveston

May 24th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler PD addressing gunshots in Galveston

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan told City Council that there have been times when a gunshot goes off in the city’s Galveston neighborhood and some residents either don’t call it at all, or wait nearly an hour to do so.

The city is hoping a pilot program might help address that problem.

Chandler Police have installed a gunshot detection device at Gazelle Meadows Park that will immediately notify a dispatcher whenever it hears a gunshot or other loud bang.

“We want our community to call us when they hear gunshots or believe it’s a gunshot or see gunshots,” said department spokesman Sgt. Jason McClimans. “But we understand that’s not practical. A lot of people don’t want to get involved. Some people might think it’s a firework or a vehicle backfires and are not calling. Or perhaps it’s delayed report, and by the time we get there, the people who are doing this are gone.”

McClimans said the public should know that the device is on public land in the park. Also, it cannot record conversations or shoot any video. Its one job is to notify police when there’s a loud bang and give them a general idea of the direction and distance the sound came from.

He said it is not perfect.

For example, when they first installed them last fall they had a lot of trouble because of football games at Chandler High School. It also gave some false flag alerts caused by fireworks around New Year’s Eve.

So far, the pilot program has not cost the city any money. Companies are allowing Chandler PD to try out their equipment free during the pilot program in the hopes they’ll be able to get a contract later.

“We’re trying to … see which one works for us,” McClimans said. “And those are some of the things we’re going through is which one are false alarms, … instead of a gunshot. So we’re testing out see which one’s going to work for us and see if it’s something that is practical for us to purchase in the future.”

McClimans said they will test a couple of different devices through the end of this summer before deciding if it’s something they want to pursue. There are other cities in the Valley who are currently using gunshot detection devices.

“And obviously, we want to make sure that we’re on the same playing field and keeping our community safe as the other cities do, so it’s something we’re trying out.”

McClimans said they chose Gazelle Meadows Park for a reason.

“So we did, in the last few years, have an influx of what we’re referring to as shots fired calls,” he said. “Now, that could be somebody was shot, a vehicle shot, a building was shot, or somebody was shot, or just random fire into the air. So we have noticed that it is focused around the downtown area and this is the reason why we put this pilot program in at the city park in the downtown area to help us respond to those types of calls.”

So far, the device has detected actual gunshots but also has given off some false flags. McClimans said it has not led to any arrests at this point.

Robert Lopez lives in the Galveston neighborhood and said that he considers it a safe place, pointing out he took his niece to the park to play.

When asked why people might not be reporting gunshots right away when they hear him, he said they might be scared. However, he said he’s never heard anything like that.

Carmen Garcia says she lives just west of the Galveston neighborhood and also said she considers it safe.

“Wedon’t live that far from here,” she said. “But we don’t hear anything like that (gunshots). … It’s not like a bad neighborhood around here.”

McClimans said the police have reached out to community groups in the area to improve communication and trust. He said there could be many reasons why some people are slow to report hearing gunshots.

“They could be leaving the neighborhood, you know, and they’re in a rush to get out and they hear it and don’t want to call,” he said. “Or they think it’s fireworks because there are a lot of fireworks in downtown …. So if we get this and that notifies us within seconds, and we’re there within 30 seconds, that’s positive for us, we can help somebody we can save somebody’s life, we can protect the neighborhood.”