ShotSpotter technology helps Detroit police respond faster to gunfire


Detroit police are responding to gun violence in the city faster than ever. It’s all thanks to new technology that allows officers to trace gunshots from the moment they’re fired.

“The thing about shots being fired in a big city like Detroit, most people don’t call the police when shots are fired,” said Cmdr. Darrell Patterson.

That’s where ShotSpotter technology comes in. It was piloted in Detroit’s Ninth Precinct a couple years ago and was expanded in March into the 8th Precinct where Darrell Patterson is the commander.  

“It can tell you if it is in the front yard, or backyard if someone is firing from a vehicle, which direction they were firing,” he said. 

He says ShotSpotter consists of several towers in an area that can detect gunshots, even down to the caliber used.  

The receiver – sends an alert like this sample from another city to the SpotShotter phone app.  It gives officers a birds-eye view of where the shots came from – based off Google Earth images, it’s not in real-time.  

“Whenever a ShotSpotter run comes out, they can respond instantly, they can respond on their own,” said Patterson.  

Six officers are assigned to a ShotSpotter unit in the 8th, they patrol ShotSpotter areas and can be there in 1 to 2 minutes – using the app.  

“A lot of the times we are able to catch people right on the scene,” Patterson said, “after they have fired shots.” 

From March 25 to June 27th n the 8th precinct, ShotSpotter has led to 11 arrests – 33 guns being recovered and 131 incidents where officers collected casings for evidence.  

Patterson says they’re leaning on this technology more and there are conversations about expanding the ShotSpotter program.  

“Oh yeah we are watching and we will catch you,” he said.  

There is another piece of technology DPD does that compares and identifies shell casings.



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