ShotSpotter technology helps Columbus police cut response times in 3 neighborhoods


Shootings are almost a daily occurrence in Columbus.

The city installed the ShotSpotter technology in three neighborhoods earlier this year to help police track gunfire.

"Since we've installed ShotSpotter we've had almost 690 alerts, " Deputy Chief Richard Bash of Columbus Division Of Police said.

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On Monday, ShotSpotter went into action on South Wayne Avenue and Sullivant Avenue on a report of a shot fired.

"We were able to get there quickly to provide medical attention," Bash said.

Police believe this technology is giving them an added weapon in the fight against violent crime.

"It doesn't replace 911 and I encourage people to continue to call 911. That's important pieces of information we want people to know that keeping our community is safe is between us and them," Bash said.

Here's how the program works. Hundreds of acoustic sensors are placed throughout the city.

As soon as gunfire is detected, the computer sends the sound, and specific location to a computer inside a police cruiser.

What once took an officer six or seven minutes to respond to shots fired is down to 60 to 90 seconds.

Nine square miles of the city is covered by shot spotter they include: the Hilltop, Linden and the Southside.

"There are people living in our city in the Linden area who hear gunshots every day and if you have 6 or a 7-year-old kid who hears gunfire on a regular basis how does that allow him to go to sleep and thrive at school the next day? That's a problem," Bash said.

Because the shot spotter technology hasn't been in place for a full year, police say it's hard to say if its deterred violent crime.

But there's no question police are sending a message to criminals.

"If you fire a weapon in the City of Columbus either at somebody or just fooling around you will be caught," Bash said.

Bash says the initial investment in the technology cost the city $700,000. The division is considering expanding the program to other parts of the city.