High tech ShotSpotter to put ears on streets of Nashville

(Couretsy: ShotSpotter)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – In an effort to reduce gun violence, Nashville will try out ShotSpotter, a system of audio sensors that can help police pinpoint the sound of gunfire and respond to shootings faster.

Metro council approved $200,000 for a pilot program Tuesday night.

News 2 first about the ShotSpotter plan and reported it last week. ShotSpotter is currently being used in nearly 100 cities across the country, but Nashville would be the first in Tennessee.

By next summer the city plans to install sensors in the Cayce, Napier/Sudekum, and Buena Vista Heights/Elizabeth Park neighborhoods, which have the highest reports of illegal gunfire..

“ShotSpotter will help us to better track gunfire and allow our officers to respond faster and more safely, recover evidence such as shell casings or guns, interview witnesses, and ensure timely medical attention for any gunshot victims, said Mayor Megan Barry. “We are confident that this technology will help us better understand and address gun violence in Nashville.”

We learned the ShotSpotter system uses audio sensors installed on light posts and buildings. The sensors triangulate the sound of gunfire, and the system records the number of shots fired. Acoustic experts at the company review the audio and within a minute they send real-time data to police officers and dispatch centers. Some cities that use the service say it cuts down on the time police spend searching for the exact location of a shots-fired call, and officers have a better idea of what they’re walking into.

Police in Sacramento, California are using ShotSpotter.

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

He told News 2 in a Skype interview the technology has improved response time.

“Typically with a shots fired call, multiple people call 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.”

Police Chief Steve Anderson said. “I expect that ShotSpotter technology will complement our proactive strategies, which include adding extra-duty officers into the areas to both deter crime and strengthen relationships with neighbors.”

There will be community meetings in each neighborhood targeted.

Cayce meeting: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at the Martha O’Bryan Center from 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Buena Vista Heights/Elizabeth Park meeting: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at the North Precinct Community Room from 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Napier/Sudekum meeting: Thursday, February 22, 2018 at the Pruitt Library from 5:30-7:00 p.m.