The continuing failure of the New Bedford Police Department to learn of illegal gunfire from the ShotSpotter system is becoming a scandal.

I wish I could explain why the traditional success of the ShotSpotter system has been otherwise lately in New Bedford. I know the system works. It was put in place in 2011 by Mayor Scott W. Lang as an additional tool to combat gun shooting violent criminals. ShotSpotter has been on duty for a decade and until lately it has been a great partner for the citizens and those sworn to protect them.

The recent terrorist attack on a police officer's home also showcased a breakdown in the information loop that has made the illegal gunshot detection system so successful. The police department was never notified of the eight gunshots fired into the police officer's home and hours went by until the crime was detected. The suspect is still on the run and obviously armed and dangerous.

Since the attack on the police officer's home, there have been additional reports of illegal gunfire in the city that weren't detected by ShotSpotter. At least one of the incidents can't be dismissed because there were human beings with gunshot wounds. Other gunshot scenes had no victims but there were brass casings found at the locations.

ShotSpotter claims "there has never been a single city where ShotSpotter did not technically work (i.e. - detecting, locating and alerting on illegal gunfire)."

That means New Bedford is again making history or the city is failing to work with ShotSpotter. There is currently a failure somewhere in the decade-old system between New Bedford and ShotSpotter.

WBSM News reached out to the New Bedford Police Department regarding whether or not there were failures with the ShotSpotter system to detect gunfire, and Chief Joseph Cordeiro issued the following statement in response:

“ShotSpotter is one of many tools that the New Bedford Police Department uses to investigate potential incidents where shots are fired, in areas where the systems are located," Cordeiro said. "While ShotSpotter can detect incidents, like any other technology it is not foolproof or perfect in every instance, and it is a supplement to other tools the Department uses for its police work – including residents who witness suspicious activity to the police.”

Whatever the issue is in ShotSpotter detecting the recent gunfire, It isn't a small matter. It is a life or death situation and it needs to be corrected now.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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