Cleveland Police to Pilot Gunshot Detection System

The city council could vote next week to accept a grant for the program from the Cleveland Police Foundation, which would provide $250,000 in the first year and another $125,000 in the second year.

(TNS) — Cleveland is moving to test high-tech sophisticated audio equipment that can aid police by detecting gunshots and pinpointing the location where they were fired.

Cleveland City Council’s Safety Committee on Wednesday voted support for a grant from the Cleveland Police Foundation that would pay for a two-year pilot program to test the gunfire sensor technology in the Fourth Police District on the city’s East Side.

City Council could vote next week to accept the grant, which would provide $250,000 in the first year and another $125,000 in the second year.

The shot sensor technology alerts police when it detects the sound of a gunshot. The technology measures for soundwaves specific to gunfire and pinpoints the point of origin.

The systems are sophisticated, capable of measuring sounds with very specific wavelengths and eliminating firecrackers and backfiring automobiles, police Chief Calvin Williams told the Safety Committee.

The systems are able to alert police almost immediately when a gun is fired in a covered area and identify the type of weapon used, said Fourth District police Commander Brandon Kutz.

That alert to police may happen even before a dispatcher gets a call on 911, Kutz said.

In other cities where the sensor technology has been used, prosecutions for gunfire-related crimes have tended to go up while the number of incidents has decreased, Deputy Chief Harold Pretel said.

That is particularly true, he said, for gunfire vandalism cases, such as those where someone takes shots at a sign or a building.

Councilman Matt Zone, who chairs the Safety Committee, said some questions involving individual rights should be addressed before a vendor can proceed and develop the system.

Those include issues such as how recorded data is stored and by whom, and whether the systems can record other things, such as conversations.

Councilman Blaine Griffin, whose Ward 6 includes areas in the Fourth Police District, said civil liberties are important, but he believes Cleveland needs to take advantage of new policing technology to deter crime.

“I think we have to look at technology. I don’t think it stops here,” Griffin said. “I think we have to look and drones and other technology.”

If City Council votes to accept the grant next week, it will take several weeks before a vendor is found to run the pilot program. The Safety Committee voted Wednesday that the vendor, before proceeding, will have to appear before the Safety Committee to answer its questions about civil liberties.

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