CPD could use soundwaves to pinpoint gunshots

Posted at 2:14 AM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 02:14:27-04

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati's gun violence could get a high-tech solution, if the city can come up with the money to fund it.

A neighbor to the north -- Canton, Ohio -- has used the ShotSpotter gunfire detection and location system since June 2013.

When someone fires a shot inside the system's perimeter, ShotSpotter's sensors pick up soundwaves and can show police where the shot came from -- within seconds.

"This whole thing is a game-changer to us," Canton Police Patrolman Frank Ranalli said. "A lot of our casings are found if not right on the dot, within five meters of the dot."

According to the Canton Police Department, there were three different shootings on one particular block in June. ShotSpotter showed shots all aimed at one house, and shell casings verified each shooting's location, just like ShotSpotter predicted.

"It saves a lot of money because to focus on this problem with personnel alone to respond in this type of manner would be so cost prohibitive," Canton Police Chief Bruce Lawver said.

Within ShotSpotter's three-square-mile boundary in Canton, gunfire is down 50 percent from last year; citywide, calls for shots fired are down 37 percent.

Lawver said neighbors who once ignored gunshots are taking notice and playing a more active role.

"The community kind of set the tone and said, 'This is something we're not going to turn a blind eye to anymore,'" he said.

Former Cincinnati police chief Jeffrey Blackwell wanted the system in Cincinnati within the next six months; according to Cincinnati Police Capt. Paul Neudigate, it remains a priority.

"If we find that there is value in it and it's effective in other cities and we can bring it here, we would like to find the funding and get it implemented," Neudigate said.

What's not yet known is how many square miles in Cincinnati ShotSpotter would cover. For comparison, Canton's system cost $360,000 for three square miles.

To see how the system works, watch the video above.