Cleveland expands ShotSpotter system in hopes of saving lives of shooting victims

Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 6:48 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s a shocking statistic: more than 80-percent of shooting incidents aren’t called into 911.

Gun violence on the rise in Cleveland and police are turning to technology to help combat crime.

They say ShotSpotter is saving lives, while getting guns off the streets.

ShotSpotter is an acoustic gunshot detection system that uses sensors and trained audio experts to determine if shots have been fired.

The sensors are deployed atop light posts and buildings around the city.

In less than 60 seconds, police get an alert and precise location where a gun just went off.

The city of Cleveland gave us an example of the program working and saving a life.

Police officers were already in the area of E. 128th St. and Forest when they got a ShotSpotter alert and immediately rushed to find the victim.

More than two minutes went by before someone finally called 911.

The sooner first responders can get to a victim, the better their chances for survival.

In cases where people hear gunfire but don’t call 911, the city said ShotSpotter is making a difference.

“Already year to date, that program has saved four lives. Four lives,” said Mayor Justin Bibb.

In an exclusive interview this week with 19 News, Mayor Bibb said the public’s lack of reporting gun violence is what prompted the expansion of shot-spotter across Cleveland.

According to the city, more than 10,000 incidents have been detected, and more than a dozen lives saved since the program was first introduced in the Fourth District back in 2020.

As part of the mayor’s new RISE initiative, which stands for Raising Investment in Safety for Everyone, the city is working to combat crime by pairing ShotSpotter with its other high-tech programs, like the Safe Smart CLE camera sharing registry and the Real Time Crime Center.

The mayor told 19 News the city sees technology as one solution to stopping gun violence.

But they also need the public to report shootings and other crimes.

“We need our residents to be the first line of defense for our city, sharing information about what’s happening on the street,” Mayor Bibb said.

The city recently expanded ShotSpotter technology to all five neighborhood police districts.

The ShotSpotter expansion is funded through federal dollars, from an allocation of $2.76 million from the American Rescue Plan.

Cleveland residents are asked to call 911 in an emergency, and call police at 216-621-1234 in non-emergencies.

You can also provide anonymous information by calling Crimestoppers at 216-25-CRIME.