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Politics & Government

Detroit police use new technology to fight gun crime

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A Detroit Police Department pilot project is using gunfire detection technology to reduce gun crime.

Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woody said the ShotSpotter system identifies "gunfire in a specific area wherever the technology is set up." He said it is designed to also pinpoint the location, time, and direction of gunshots.

Woody said that the system should improve police response time because it is supposed to let dispatchers know right away when and where shots have been fired.

ShotSpotter company president Ralph Clark said 911 calls are often vague and delayed, with the caller uncertain about where the gunshot sound has come from. He said the technology "allows law enforcement to get to that particular scene quickly, safely, and with a lot of context about what they're stepping into." It can even tell whether the weapon is an automatic or the shooting is a drive-by, Clark said.

Clark said  gunfire is dramatically under-reported, especially in neighborhoods where it most often occurs. So the technology will help solve gun crimes that the police might not otherwise learn of and help build community trust, he said.

The Detroit News reported Sunday that, according to Detroit Police Chief James Craig,  the pilot program began on Sept. 22 and had detected 24 shootings – none of which had been reported to the police.

Woody declined to say whether the pilot project has begun, how long it will last, or where in Detroit it is being tested.

No taxpayer funds are being used for the pilot program, according to Woody.

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom