ShotSpotter helps create a 'fingerprint' network of shell casings

Posted at 11:34 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 00:00:31-04

CINCINNATI -- Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate thinks ShotSpotter is off to a "very good beginning" in Avondale, where it caught a running gun battle on camera over the weekend -- a gun battle about which no one in the surrounding neighborhood contacted police.

"(People are) scared, you know," Avondale resident Gary Burton said of why his neighbors might not call authorities on such an incident. "They probably know them. But it's still inexcusable."

If not for the newly installed system, which uses a network of microphones to detect and track the sound of gunfire, authorities might never have known about it at all.

"You have gunfire, gunshots ringing out in the middle of a highly populated area like Avondale, and it's just not acceptable," Neudigate said.

ShotSpotter cameras recorded a man shooting at another as he ran down Gholson Avenue. Although the intended victim was out of sight, police have another tool they can use to track the culprit: NIBIN, a national information network into which shell casings can be entered and used to identify guns the same way fingerprints can be used to identify people.

NIBIN will help police connect crimes by placing the same culprit -- or at least the same gun -- at multiple scenes, Neudigate said. Since ShotSpotter's August activation, Cincinnati police have discovered 140 shell casings and entered them into the database to help create a network of clues in each shooting.

Although no arrests have been made in the Gholson Avenue shooting, Neudigate said Monday he was hopeful, with ShotSpotter's help, it could be solved.

"They got away with this before. Now we're all over the building we think they ran to. So, yes, we're coming for you," he said.