CPD On ShotSpotter Sensors: ‘We Want To Replicate That Success’

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police say shootings dropped in two districts in March — and they credit that drop, in part, to new strategies and technology.

In this original report, CBS 2’s Mai Martinez looks at how CPD is actively fighting gun violence.

Dozens of ShotSpotter sensors monitor for sounds of gunfire. They then pinpoint an exact location within seconds, alerting police on cell phones and monitors. They even provide a radius with which to search for offenders and evidence.

“Because ShotSpotter is so accurate and real time, the officers can actually arrive to the scene somewhere between 5 and 7 minutes before a 9-1-1 call,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “That gives us more opportunity to arrest the offender and actually intervene in some things.”

CBS 2 received a demonstration at ShotSpotter’s California headquarters.

“If that individual’s not intercepted right, they’re ultimately going to shoot and kill someone,” said Ralph Clark, the company’s CEO.

Clark said other cities using this technology, along with additional strategies, have seen reduction in gun violence, adding, “we’ve seen some agencies been able to decrease gunfire in the coverage areas of up to 35 percent.”

In Chicago, ShotSpotter was first put in the 7th and 11th districts, then the 15th and 9th. The 10th and 6th will be online by the end of Spring.

“We’re seeing a lot of success in 7 and 11, so we want to replicate that success,” Johnson noted.

Last month, the 7th district saw 13 shootings, compared to 23 in March of 2016. In the 11th district, shootings dropped to 11 compared to 47 in March of 2016.

The technology could also help locate victims more quickly, which has the potential to save lives.

“We want to see very quick and precise responses in under five minutes, maybe even two minutes if possible,” said Clark.

In addition to ShotSpotter, CPD is using HunchLab, which uses high-tech tools to predict where violent crime might occur based on previous police calls.

Chief Jonathan Lewin, head of CPD’s bureau of technical services, said, “these areas are are at risk for future violence.”

Information such as gang tensions and gang problems in the area are already built in.

“Whatever it takes to reduce the gun violence in Chicago we’re willing to try out,” Johnson said.

Chicago has had ShotSpotter since 2012, but technological advancements combined with CPD expansion and development has made it a more successful tool. The company guarantees 80 percent accuracy in detecting gun fire as opposed to other sounds such as fireworks.

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