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Some cities are ditching ShotSpotter, but Cincinnati police say it's working

Posted at 10:23 PM, Dec 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 00:25:02-05

CINCINNATI -- According to Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate, ShotSpotter -- an audio surveillance system that alerts police to the sound of gunshots -- has been an effective tool in identifying gun violence problem areas of which Cincinnati police had been unaware. Not everyone agrees.

"We see that is definitely helping us identify areas that were not on our radar," Neudigate said of the tool. "Within about a minute's time, (officers) are responding. If you pick up the phone and call 911, we're probably looking at about a four-minute response."

He added that only about 16 percent of shootings are reported by humans, so the automated reports generated by ShotSpotter result in more patrols, more undercover officers and "more surveillance" in potentially dangerous areas.

However, longtime Avondale resident Perry Ward believes ShotSpotter spends police time and money on playing cleanup crew instead of working to create change in communities like his own.

"By the time they arrive, the shooter's gone and that money can be used elsewhere," Ward said. 

Ward said he would instead like to see greater investment in making sure Avondale's young people have career opportunities and safe places to spend time. 

Some cities, including San Antonio, have implemented ShotSpotter and then abandoned it due to prohibitive costs. According to My San Antonio, the Texan city made just four arrests after investing $550,000 in the program. 

Others, including Denver, have found greater success. The Denver Police Department said Tuesday it had made 96 arrests as the result of its ShotSpotter implementation.

Neudigate grouped Cincinnati in the latter category.

"ShotSpotter is another tool in the toolbox working successfully for us," he said.