From August to May, Cumberland Avenue is filled with the lively happenings of a bustling college town. Most nights, students and visitors flock to the bars and restaurants to enjoy their time away from studying.
Normally a safe and fun filled environment, the Strip has now been plagued by a disturbing trend of gun violence. Over the past year, there have been multiple incidents involving gunshots on or around Cumberland Avenue. The results have ranged from property damage to serious injuries. While some incidents seem to have targets, others are simply from shooting inro the air.
One of the common aspects of these shootings is the lack of arrests made. By the time the police are able to locate the gunfire, suspects are long gone. Without any arrests being made, there is no deterrence for other possible shooters. For Cumberland Avenue to be a safe and enjoyable space for residents of Knoxville and students alike, authorities must deter these incidents from happening. The solution is to arrest and prosecute the suspects to the fullest extent of the law.
Achieving this is easier said than done. However, advances in technology offer an opportunity to solve these shootings.
Options to address this dangerous trend also can vary. The Knoxville police could increase the number of officers patrolling the Strip in hopes that an officer is in proximity to an incident. However, this strategy leaves justice to chance.
For these shooting suspects to be detained at the scene, police must be able to locate, track and intercept these suspects before they have an opportunity to get away. Locating an individual in the midst of a city with large crowds is difficult. Technology can assist in doing this.
One possible solution is to utilize acoustic gunshot detection.
This is an evolving technology used in war-zones and large cities to detect gunshots and identify their origin. The system works by using acoustic sensors to detect a gunshot, triangulate its origin and fix cameras on the suspect. All the data from the sensors is ran through an algorithm to determine the source of the sound and whether it was indeed a gunshot. By eliminating the frenzy in locating gunshots, officers can save time in arriving to the scene. Quick arrival not only lessens the chance of the suspect escaping, its decreases the possibility of losing evidence. This evidence is crucial in a successful prosecution.
I believe this system could be implemented on Cumberland Avenue from Cookout to the beginnings of campus. This area is where the incidents that risk the safety of the student population are occurring.
Acoustic gunshot detection has been deployed all over the world, and its track record is impressive. A South African National Park has employed a system called ShotSpotterto attempt to counter poachers. Since utilizing this technology, there has been a reported 60 percent decrease in endangered rhino killed within the systems coverage area.
This technology has not only been used in nature, but has proven its utility in an urban environment. Cities such as Denver, Springfield and Chicago have tested and employed acoustic gunshot detection systems to great success. Knoxville needs to implement these same measures in the problem areas around the university’s campus.
Installing a verified gunshot detection system would greatly improve the safety of Cumberland Avenue and the surrounding area. The financial cost of this system could be a joint effort between the City of Knoxville and The University of Tennessee.
By investing into the safety of the community, the city would attract more safety conscious businesses and residents. By doing this, there are financial and cultural rewards. The school should push to finance and implement a system such as this for the safety of its students. Although Cumberland Avenue is not officially part of the university’s campus, administrators should understand the symbiotic relationship between the Strip and the school.
Gun violence has no place in our university community. Students should not be exposed to random gunfire during their nighttime festivities.
With incidents continuing to occur, Knoxville Police has not found a solution to eliminate these shootings. The solution is an acoustic gunfire detection system installed along the buildings of Cumberland Avenue. This type of system could fix the problem of gunfire on the Strip. Giving the police a head start in locating and arresting shooting suspects is the goal of the acoustic gunfire detection system. The University of Tennessee- Knoxville, along with Knoxville Police and the City of Knoxville owe it to its students and citizens to invest in their community.
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