The city’s new gunshot detection technology helped police arrest a juvenile who had fired a gun just minutes prior to his arrest, according to a Mobile Police Department statement.
In a July 27 statement, the MPD announced that not only had the ShotSpotter system gone live, but officers had used it within a “couple of minutes” to track down a suspect who had fired a single gunshot. The technology uses special microphones strategically placed around the city to detect the sound of gunfire.
ShotSpotter, which was paid for with $3.5 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funding, assists police in two ways, MPD Intelligence Division Commander Kevin Levy said. It helps not only track down who’s responsible for a gunshot, but it also does it more accurately.
However, Levy stressed the new technology is just one tool to detect gunfire. By itself, ShotSpotter cannot eliminate the threat of gunfire. Other initiatives will have to be part of the solution as well.
To accomplish this goal, Levy said the department is willing to invest in more people and assets in the future.
“We have new personnel working on a holistic approach to deter gunfire,” he said. “A number of them work on gunshot detection. We’re about midway through the (hiring) process.”
In addition to ShotSpotter, the city has entered into a $500,000 lease agreement with Alabama Power to couple the system’s microphones with cameras placed nearby. The ARPA funding also allowed the city to hire additional personnel
Despite the use of the gunshot detection technology, Levy said it’s important residents still call police when they hear gunshots. The MPD has created a “See Something, Say Something” tip line to assist communities negatively impacted by gunfire. The number is 251-404-4066.
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