Cleveland police embrace cutting edge technology that detects sound of gunfire, alerts officers

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — Cleveland police are embracing cutting edge technology called Shot Spotter, that detects the sound of gunfire, and notifies police officers in the field via their phones and on-board computers.

During a meeting of Cleveland City Council’s Public Safety Committee, Ron Teachman of ShotSpotter Inc., told council members, “preliminary data show that only 15% of gunfire alerts were a 911 call from the public, that would mean that 85% of the time without Shot Spotter, the response time is never because the police don’t know about the gunfire at all. In less than 60 seconds from trigger pull, we’re sending the police to the scene with tactical intelligence for a safer response.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, council members were updated about a pilot project that started in November, using Shot Spotter in a three-square mile area of the city’s fourth district.

“There have been 27 arrests and 26 gun recoveries because of the Shot Spotter response and I would say those are probably arrests and recoveries that we would not have had otherwise,” said Commander Brandon Kutz.

More importantly, Shot Spotter is helping save lives.

“We’ve encountered four people with life threatening injuries and our officers were able to provide life-saving first aid at the scene prior to the arrival of fire and EMS,” said Commander Kutz.

The City of Cleveland says since Shot Spotter was installed in the fourth district, 1,520 incidents involving gunfire were detected by the technology, and an average of 3.5 gunshots were during each of those incidents.

The city is looking for additional funding to expand the technology, but Councilman Basheer Jones says there is a need for the human element in policing.

“As much as Shot Spotter is there, it’s also about creating this relationship with community, that they are the best shot spotters, I mean the equipment is fine, but the community is the best shot spotters,” said Councilman Jones.

While council members expressed support for the use of Shot Spotter, some of them are raising questions about the cost of the technology, which is $65,000 per square mile of coverage, per year.

Meanwhile, some members of the Public Safety Committee are pushing the city’s technology administrators for more surveillance cameras in neighborhoods across the city.

“It’s about community safety and sending a message to the element out there who wants to victimize and criminalize our community, then you know what, smile, because the next time you might be on-camera,” said Councilman Mike Polensek.

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