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Birmingham City Council approves funding for ShotSpotter upgrades

July 05, 2016

People on the east side of Birmingham give a thumbs up to the city's use of ShotSpotter -- a gunshot location and detection service. Birmingham police told ABC 33/40 they've relied on the citywide crime-fighting tool to since 2008.

"ShotSpotter has been a great tool for our department. It has assisted our officers throughout the city," said Lt. Sean Edwards.

Birmingham's City Council agrees and approved paying more than $52,000 to let officers keep using the gunfire detection system.

"It's working. You don't really hear of as many shootings as you used to," said Robert Lewis, who lives on the east side of Birmingham.

Dispatchers want people like Lewis to call 911 if they hear of a shooting and not rely solely on ShotSpotter.

Edwards says the detection system can determine the difference between a gunshot and something else like a firecracker.

"If a sound goes off, like gunfire or fireworks, we have sensors that will triangulate that sound and get as close as possible," added Lt. Edwards.

He says officers are finding success with the technology.

"We've had several officers, when a ShotSpotter call goes out, dispatchers were able to send units to the location. Once we got there, we have actually found victims who had suffered gunshot wounds," added Lt. Edwards.

Lewis is a fan of ShotSpotter but sees room for improvement.

"If someone is shooting out here now, it's going to take them a good 15-20 minutes to get here. So, what is the sense of having it if you can't get here on time," added Lewis.

ABC 3340 News - Birmingham