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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has found a high-tech system aimed at getting guns off the streets almost never leads to an arrest.

We investigated since Cleveland City Hall spent millions of dollars to alert police to gunfire more quickly.

We checked records for the Shot Spotter system, a system of sensors that pick up the sound of gunfire and alert police dispatchers.

Look back at the last 6 months.

The City of Cleveland tells us Shot Spotter sent out 1931 alerts.

But records show only 11 arrests.

Yet, the city just spent nearly $3 million to expand the system. It will ultimately cover 13 square miles in troubled neighborhoods all over Cleveland.

In fact, this week, the mayor’s office sent out a news release celebrating the expansion. Mayor Justin Bibb was quoted as calling Shot Spotter a tool to help “fight against gun violence” and “to reduce gun homicides.” 

We went to the police commander over this project.

And we asked about 1 arrest in every 175 alerts. How can you call that effective?
Commander Brandon Kutz said, “If we’re judging it only on the number of arrests, or something like that, I don’t think that’s the only measure for Shot Spotter.”
We followed up by asking if police are not arresting people, how can that be cutting down on homicides and other gun crimes?

The commander said, “Well, we’re also seeing investigatory leads because of Shot Spotter.”

The I-Team also wondered how effective those gunfire alerts are if police have no officers to send, The Cleveland police department is chronically short-staffed.

And last weekend, a Shot Spotter call came in, but the police didn’t send an officer for thirteen minutes.

So, what good is the system if you have no police officers to respond to the scene?

The commander responded to that by saying, “Any call for service, if we’re running short on manpower, it’s very busy. The same question can be asked there.”

City Council Public Safety Chairman Michael Polensek wants evidence the system makes streets safer.

Polensek said, “We’re gonna continue to monitor it.”

He added, “If the numbers don’t bear out what we’ve been told, then we’re gonna have to make that decision, do we continue?”

Cleveland police insist Shot Spotter helps fight gun violence, and they say it saves lives.

The Commander argues Shot Spotter has helped save at least 12 lives just in a section on the southeast side where Shot Spotter has been in operation for a few years. Saving lives by getting police to shooting scenes more quickly. Police and city council members say very few citizens call 911 about shots fired anymore. So, Shot Spotter notifies police of shootings that, otherwise, often may go unreported.

The City plans to have an independent analysis to look at the Shot Spotter program’s operation and effectiveness.