Nashville wants technology that ‘hears’ gunshots placed at Cayce Homes

(Couretsy: ShotSpotter)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – What if Metro police could tell when a gun was fired in Nashville even if no one called to report it?

It may be possible with technology city leaders want to purchase.

According to a resolution filed at city hall on Tuesday, Nashville wants $200,000 from the General 4% Reserve Fund to purchase ShotSpotter in the third quarter of 2018. Metro Development and Housing Authority would split the cost with the city.

According to a council member, if the measure is approved, one of the first places the technology would be placed is at the Cayce Homes in East Nashville, where gun violence has plagued its residents.

(Photo: WKRN)

ShotSpotter is currently being used nearly 100 cities across the country, but Nashville would be the first in Tennessee.

According to a ShotSpotter spokesperson, by placing audio sensors on buildings, lampposts, and utility poles, the technology picks up the sound of gunshots. The information is then sent to data analyzers in California who determine if the sound is, in fact, gunfire or if it’s fireworks or a car backfiring.

That determination is then sent back to police dispatch, and an alert is sent to the officers’ cell phones all within 30 to 45 seconds.

One of the cities using ShotSpotter is Sacramento, California.

“Sometimes we’re getting those calls of shootings prior to the citizens calling in because of this technology,” said Detective Eddie McCaulay with Sacramento police.

He told News 2 in a Skype interview that the technology has helped cut down on the time police search for the exact location of a shots fired call.

“Typically with a shots fired call, multiple people call in in a geographic area, but they’re only giving their best estimate of where they think it’s coming from,” he said. “With this, we’re going to know where that shot is coming from or where that gunshot was fired so it really narrows it down those resources. We’re not sending them to a six-block radius; we’re sending them to the front yard of the house.”

(Couretsy: ShotSpotter)

Detective Macaulay also says the technology helps keep their officers safe because they know what they’re walking into; he says the technology can pick up whether the shots are fired by multiple guns.

Macaulay also says shots fired are often under reported. From June 2015 to May 2017, there were just under 1,100 ShotSpotter activations, and only 25 percent of those were called into police.

The detective told News 2 their officers made 89 arrests and confiscated 90 guns that, he believes, would not have been possible without ShotSpotter.

Since Sacramento purchased the technology in June 2015, they’ve expanded the number of locations from one geographic area to three.

Metro Council approved the resolution to allocate the money for ShotSpotter during its meeting Tuesday night.

The next step is installing the technology.

We reached out to MDHA, the mayor’s office, and Metro police but all refused comment at this time.