Shot Spotter

Related Story

COLUMBIA- For the longest time, police have had to use ballistic tests and good old fashioned hard work to determine where a gun was fired.

But now, officers are getting a little help from technology.

In Kansas City, police are using a program called ShotSpotter.

Sergeant Monte May says Kansas City has had the technology since 2012, and it tells them everything they need to know about a gun that's been fired.

"It's like a gunshot alarm," May said. "Gun shot occurs, the alarm sounds off, the sensors go off, sends that information to the ShotSpotter dispatch center, where they have trained people that go through hours of training to differentiate a [car] backfire and gunshot."

Once the information has gone through the dispatch center, it is sent to Kansas City Police Department where police can be out the door in minutes with the location and time of the gunfire.

"Finding that crime scene quickly and providing police response there within minutes, that's a huge benefit," May said.

Police can also detect if one or more gunshots were fired off.

"ShotSpotter can differentiate between on multiple shots, single shots, different guns, a gunfight going on," May said. "So when you send your officers into that, it's nice to know if two guys are going at it or if it's multiple shots, we might want to send more officers so officers are safe."

May said this can mean the difference between life and death in some cases. By the time someone picks up the phone to dial 9-1-1 and gives the information, minutes have already gone by.

"Many gunshots go unreported for a variety of reasons. People just don't feel safe, and so it's another tool that gets officers where they need to be the most," May said.

According to ShotSpotter research, 80 percent of shots fired incidents go unreported.

One Columbia resident, Marcus Buford, has been a long time anti-gun violence advocate and said he would like to see the technology overlooking the streets of Columbia.

"I was born and raised in Columbia," Buford said. "I remember the times we were ranked number one, in the top 5 consistently as being one of the best small cities to live in. Over the years, that's changed. I think if we can get the money allocated for this, it would go a long way to fight crime."

Kansas City Police Department said they have sensors within a three mile radius. KOMU 8 News spoke to ShotSpotter CEO Robert Clark, and he said the sensors cost anywhere from $60,000 -$100,000 per square mile.

Buford said there are several "hot spots" around Columbia more prone to crime and therefore there is a need.

"Gun violence has its effect all across the city," Buford said. "There are trouble spots in the city, even in the first ward."

Buford has lost friends and family members to gun violence and said this the reason he likes to bring awareness to gun violence in the community.

"I think by implementing this technology, it would allow the police to get to the scene quickly and get more data, or evidence involving the situation," Buford said. That would give the impression to the community that police are actually doing their jobs, they will make a difference. This would give the citizens and the police a better rapport with one another."