CLEVELAND (WJW) – More sensors alerting police to the sound of gunfire could be coming to a street near you.
Plans just took a big step forward. They were approved by the Cleveland City Council Safety Committee even as civil rights leaders have big concerns.
A few years ago, the FOX 8 I-Team uncovered the city setting up the sensors in a small section of town on the southeast side.
Now, we’ve found a major expansion underway that would add the electronic ears of Shot Spotter to 13 square miles.
Shot Spotter operates a system of high-tech sensors that pick up the sound of gunshots and alert dispatchers to the location.
The council safety committee held hearings that went on for hours and hours over two days.
Thursday, Councilman Joe Jones spoke out in favor of expanding the Shot Spotter system.
“I looked out my window. All I heard was ‘bam bam bam, boom boom boom.’ For those of you who are not victims, you don’t have anything to say to me,” he said.
The expansion of the system would cost the city nearly $3 million.
But, many civil rights leaders don’t like it. They believe those alerts about gunfire could lead to police stopping and arresting innocent people.
Police say the alerts get officers to a scene more quickly and many citizens don’t even call in reports of gunfire.
But, activists are not convinced Shot Spotter makes streets safer.
“Its a false cure,” local Black Lives Matter organizer Kareem Henton said. “So, what we’re hearing right now is a bunch of word play and double speak. They’re talking around things.”
The I-Team filed a records request. The city sent us 324 pages of records of these calls covering less than two years. They show calls for one gunshot heard and even five, 10 and 15 rounds detected.
Not long after the system went online, records showed an arrest only in one out of about every 100 of these calls.
Councilman Michael Polensek spoke in favor of expanding the program, but he added that council should keep close watch on what happens with it.
The plan to add many more of the gunshot sensors still must be approved by the full city council.