Can the expansion of Shotspotter technology help the shooting response in Detroit?

DETROIT (WXYZ) – A 19-year-old Detroit man, Dontae Ramon Smith, remains in custody after allegedly committing a shooting.

In a two and a half hour period on Sunday morning, four people were randomly shot, three were killed.

The teen had no criminal record. He recovered a nine millimeter pistol. The police say that he may have mental problems.

This case has sparked a new push to expand what is called Shotspotter technology in Detroit.

Right now the system covers 6.5 square miles.

The mayor is proposing to use $7 million in COVID-19 relief money to expand it to 28 square miles. But there is opposition in the Detroit City Council.

Shotspotter has been in Detroit since 2021. When shots are fired, a series of sensors pick up the sound, send it to company headquarters, which verifies it and sends it to Detroit’s Realtime Crime Center.

“They’re going to look at it for about 30 to 45 seconds to confirm that they think it’s shot,” said Capt. Anthony O’Rourke of the Detroit Police Criminal Intelligence Unit.

And these are the data sent, the sound recorded and the pins where the system shows that the shots were fired.

“An 82-foot radius where the target location is,” Capt. O’Rourke said.

In the April case on Beaconfield Street, someone was critically shot. No 911 calls. Victim showed up at a hospital.

Mother of five is one of the victims of what Detroit police call ‘random’ shooting

And then on Sunday. Nobody called 911 after the first shooting. A mother of four would be killed next.

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The mayor suggests that Shotspotter could have been a lifesaver.

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“I’ll let everyone make their own inference. But how does someone spend half an hour with a dead body lying on the sidewalk in nearby Wyoming and no one comes and then murders a second person four blocks away?” Detroit mayor said , Mike. Duggan.

Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Waters said, “It could be true that Shotspotter could have helped.”

Some members of the Detroit City Council disagree that the mayor is proposing to spend $7 million in COVID-19 relief money to build Shotspotter at four times the coverage area.

Some have said it’s too “big brother”, with cameras and microphones monitoring people.

“There has been a lot of misinformation that doesn’t make sense,” said Mayor Duggan.

Waters said, “I want to evaluate everything whether or not we need Shotspotter, whether or not it really works.”

A study conducted last year in St. Louis by Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville concluded: Less than 1% of Shotspotter calls over a five-year period returned enough evidence to write a report.

From 2008 to early 2018, over 19,000 Shotspotter calls but only 13 arrests.

“Again, I know what’s working in Detroit,” Duggan said.

Council members will be invited to do their own demonstration.

The commander of DPD Precinct 9 says that Shotspotter helps them in revenge shootouts where they don’t get cooperation.

“Sometimes we can prevent retaliation shootings because we know from experience that people lie about where they were shot,” said Cmdr. Gerry Johnson of the Detroit Police Department’s 9th Precinct.

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He added: “Then we can use our Shotspotter technology to go to those places.”

There is no timeline on when the city council will deal with this.

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