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Man Dies In Shooting 

Suffolk County police block off the intersection of West Hills Road and West 19th Street Aug. 22, one day after a Roosevelt man was shot dead in Huntington Station.

A passenger in a car was shot and killed last Wednesday in Huntington Station, police said.

When Second Precinct officers arrived at the scene, near West Hills Road and Eighth Street, they found the body of Jazzmen Bryant, 33, of Roosevelt, inside a dark-colored, four-door sedan, where they also found two other male passengers who were uninjured.

Bryant was shot in the torso, according to Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick would not comment on how many shots Bryant’s body sustained, nor would he release the identity of the other men in the car.

Bryant was officially pronounced dead at Huntington Hospital.

The shooting, which took place at 11:19 p.m., was detected by the ShotSpotter sensor system, and several witnesses called 911. The two other men in the car did not call in the shooting, Fitzpatrick added.

Most of the area from Eighth Street to West Hills Road, and along West 19th Street, was closed off by Second Precinct police and Suffolk County Crime Section special patrol bureau officers through the afternoon of Aug. 22.

The four-passenger vehicle Bryant was found in was impounded by homicide detectives. The investigation is continuing.

Working To Sharpen ShotSpotter’s Aim
By Danny Schrafel
dschrafel@longislandernews.com

Days after ShotSpotter picked up the gunshots in a fatal Huntington Station shooting, the acoustic gunshot detection system will be the subject of a hearing before the Suffolk County Legislature’s Public Safety committee, officials confirmed Tuesday.

The announcement of the 9:30 a.m., Sept. 11 meeting in Hauppauge follows Police Commissioner Edward Webber’s June 21 report that showed that just 7 percent of countywide ShotSpotter activations during one eight-month stretch were confirmed gunshots.

Officers also determined that 30 percent of the remaining 212 system activations were caused by noises other than gunshots, according to the study. They were unable to definitively classify the remainder.

Immediately after the report went public, Legislator Tom Cilmi, one of ShotSpotter’s harshest critics, filed legislation to cancel the last year of the system’s three-year contract with Suffolk County. But after a meeting with ShotSpotter officials, legislators and police officials Tuesday, Cilmi is expected to table the legislation during the Sept. 11 committee meeting.

Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), chair of the county’s Public Safety committee, said the county is sticking with ShotSpotter.

“There are no plans to say we’re getting rid of it. They’re not saying it’s not working. There are just some technical things that have to be addressed,” Browning said.

ShotSpotter was installed in Huntington Station in December 2011. Efforts to fine-tune the program have been underway since June, Suffolk County Police Chief of Support Services Mark White said. Chain-of-command streamlining is expected to speed improvements further. Previously, the county had four separate offices receiving ShotSpotter alerts. Now, there’s just one centralized office within the police’s department of communications.

“Now it will be easier to do the fine-tuning,” White said.

Legislators representing ShotSpotter-covered areas are now receiving monthly updates, starting with data compiled in June. White added that rules and procedures for patrol officers related to ShotSpotter classifications are also being revised.

In the 2 square-mile coverage area within the Second Precinct, monthly data indicates the frequency of “false” ShotSpotter activations, which describes activations caused by noises other than gunshots, were lower in July than in previous months.

According to internal reports, there were 12 unsubstantiated activations – when a police officer could not prove a gunshot happened, but could not rule it out either – and three false reports in the Second Precinct from July 1-31. A month earlier, there were eight false activations and one unsubstantiated report. All of the false reports were a result of fireworks, according to the report; in the June report, most came at the end of the month, ahead of the July 4 holiday.

Data in Webber’s report, which was compiled from Aug. 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013, revealed that 24 of the 38 activations in the Second Precinct coverage area were unsubstantiated, while 12, or 31.6 percent, were ruled false. Two, or 5.3 percent, were confirmed gunshots.

Countywide, though, a large number of false reports remain. In June, there were 44 activations – 13 unsubstantiated, 28 false and three confirmed. In July, there were 28 unsubstantiated, 29 false and one confirmed.

In neighboring Nassau County, where ShotSpotter covers 2 square miles of Roosevelt, Uniondale and the northern tip of Freeport, Inspector Kenneth Lack said that while the installation required tweaks early on, it still had a very positive rollout in 2009. That positive reaction was cited in Suffolk County as a reason to install ShotSpotter in the first place.

“It was still very accurate,” Lack said. “It was in the high 80s at that time and only got better and got into the mid 90s.”

Lack said that the system has become more accurate as local ShotSpotter technicians “train” the system by reclassifying misplaced reports. Unlike Suffolk, the Nassau Police Department owns the hardware and does not have its data analyzed by ShotSpotter staff in California. With that reclassification, the system gets “smarter” and more in tune to environmental conditions as it “learns” where gunshot-like sounds are frequently produced and filters them out.

Browning and Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport), whose district includes the Huntington Station coverage area, stressed that police responding to unsubstantiated activations are not a bad thing.

“Basically, my X-ray is picking up too many things,” Spencer said, likening ShotSpotter to a medical examination. “That’s not to say they’re not tumors – it’s just that by the time the police get there, they’re not substantiated. Unsubstantiated does not mean [there was not a gunshot].”

The system, Spencer argued, creates an atmosphere that deters criminals from using guns in ShotSpotter-covered areas. He is also pushing to follow Nassau County’s lead and link sound sensors to community surveillance cameras, which could provide additional evidence to use in court and help police more accurately classify activations.

In the meantime, Spencer cautioned against a “rush to judgment.”

“It’s still new technology. The technology is being improved every day,” he said.

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