SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Whenever someone fires a gun in a Springfield neighborhood, police are alerted by an electronic notification system and respond immediately. The city’s ShotSpotter activation system includes audio sensors located in strategic locations in high-crime neighborhoods. They are nearly always activated by the sound of gunfire.

Springfield Police Officer Sean Sullivan has managed the ShotSpotter system since the department started using it nearly seven years ago. He says that it has proven highly effective in helping police get to the site of shootings quickly.

“Officers get on-scene within minutes, and have caught suspects with guns-in-hand,” Sullivan said.

He added that the system often works better than 911 calls.

“A lot of times, people do not call 911. We tested the system bi-annually, and about 95% of the shots fired, we never got a 911 call.”

On average, the ShotSpotter alerts police that a gun has been fired about once a day in Springfield, but Sullivan says that the system has actually reduced Springfield’s level of street violence.

“Every year they do a gunshot analysis and last year, we’re down 50 percent. I think word-of-mouth on the street they’re learning we have the system out there.”

The police will not say exactly how many sensors are in use, or where exactly they are located, but Sullivan insists that this technology has proven itself effective and vital to fighting crime.