Cleveland City Council approves grant for gunshot detection technology

City leaders are looking into gunshot detection technology to help with crime fighting in Cleveland’s 4th district.
Updated: Aug. 21, 2019 at 4:39 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - City leaders are looking at new technology to help police respond to gunfire.

On Wednesday night, the Cleveland City Council approved a grant to fund a new system that would pinpoint exactly where shots are fired.

The city is still determining what company and type of gunshot detection they will chose.

A grant from the Cleveland Police Foundation will help fund the technology during a pilot program with $250,000 in the first year and $175,000 in the second.

“The city’s not spending any dollars on this," assured Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone.

The city is focusing on using the program in the Fourth District, one of the areas plagued with crime.

If someone fires a gun, strategically placed sensors pick up on the sound waves. Local dispatch is alerted and police are able to respond, in some cases, in just seconds.

Part of the appeal is that gunshot detection companies boast higher rates of police response to gunfire in areas where homeowners normally wouldn’t call 911.

In Canton, where police have had the technology since 2013, they say 100% of gun detection activations are accompanied by citizen calls to police.

Canton police said the technology has detected on average one gunshot per day.

Recently, Canton police announced switching to a new gunshot detection program, citing flaws in the other system including a high price tag.

Canton police said they’ve been able to locate more shell casings, but haven’t seen an increase in links to guns that they originally anticipated. Plus, the system they were previously using was not portable.

“ShotSpotter is a static system. It is deployed in three square miles of Canton which has 26 square miles of land mass. Moving or expanding the system has an exorbitant associated cost. Cities focus on challenged neighborhoods with the promise of improving them. ShotSpotter gets deployed in those challenged neighborhoods without the ability to shift or relocate to other places when those neighborhoods improve,” Canton Police Captain John Gabbard wrote in an email to 19 News.

City leaders in Cleveland, like Councilman Zone, said they’re using this grant on a pilot program basis. If it doesn’t work, they won’t continue it.

Zone also wants to stress that the technology won’t impact your civil liberties.

“It can’t hear people’s conversations, so what your viewers are watching now and me talking, if this technology was in place, it wouldn’t be able to pick up my voice," he said.

Once Cleveland selects a vendor, you could see this technology as early as by the end of the year.

Recently, the council also discussed adding more than 1,000 cameras in specific Cleveland wards.

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