A tool in the police department toolbox.
That’s what Shotspotter has been called since it was introduced last year.
But many still don’t know what it does – or how it effects crime.
The sounds of gunshots, caught live and recorded right off Shotspotter.
That’s how much the city of Savannah paid for Shotspotter technology.
While many folks focused on the money spent, police are focusing on what the program has done and can do to connect officers to crime scenes and evidence faster than ever.
“It is working. It is doing what we need it to do,” explained SCMPD Major Richard Zapal. “Its not just headline making material. Its not going to make the news every night. We see it every time we hear a gunshot.”
Gunshots Major Richard Zapal can see and hear, right from his own computer terminal.
The red dot on the screen shows a shot fired, and when, and where an officer can be dispatched.
“We get phone calls in I live in 600 block of west 36th street and I heard gunshots,” in the scenario Zapal set out. “But you don’t know where exactly where they might be north south east west of that house, depending on weather conditions, their hearing. This pinpoints exactly where it may be.”
Exact locations don’t always mean knowing exactly where a suspect is, but it has cut response time by as much as 5 minutes.
“We have to take many different avenues to where we got to be and this is just one of the streets,” says Zapal.
And its smarter technology. Logging some as “possible gunfire”, so officers aren’t chasing fireworks, or even blanks. Like the ones that were shot by the Honor Guard on Police Memorial Day.
“I was sitting there as the shots went off,’ remembered Zapal. “Ok here’s gunshots did shotspotter pick it up right away. And I pulled out my phone because I get the alerts on my smartphone and there is was immediately and it said potential gunfire because it was blanks.”
What’s real is the potential of shotspotter, and the difference police say it can and will make.
“Its designed to help us,” said Zapal. “And we have a toolbox with many tools in it – this is just another tool in that box.”
Shotspotter is not the only technology making a difference.
NYBAN, a program given to Savannah Police by the ATF helps connect shell casings from shooting scenes to the guns that fired them.
NYBAN recently connected a shell here to a murder in Charleston, landing that suspect behind bars.