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Mich. police consider super-smart gunshot sensors

Technology alerts police, detects number, location of shots fired, transmitting detailed data within 45 seconds

By PoliceOne Staff

DETROIT — Police want to install gunshot-recognition technology that within seconds, transmits detailed shooting data to officers and dispatch.

Called ShotSpotter Flex, a set of sensors not only detects the number of shots fired and from where, but also the type of gun used and the direction the shooter may be headed, according to the Detroit Free Press. California-based company SST pioneered the system, and City Council heard a proposal detailing the $2.6 million project on Tuesday.

ShotSpotter microphones are tuned in to pick up noise — “something that goes pop or boom or bang” — and monitors in the company’s headquarters in California review, process, and ship out information to police, SST representative Gregg Rowland said.

Cops get information — accurate and comprehensive information that might otherwise go unreported — within 45 seconds, Rowland said.

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said the technology, to be paid for with federal grant money, would address the high number of shootings in the crime-ridden city by focusing on areas known to have an especially high incidence of gun violence.

Critics question whether the department has enough staffing to respond to the information from the sensors, but Godbee says response times would be cut. Additionally, the department would dedicate resources to the neighborhoods sending the data, he added.

"To be able to know, as close to real time as you can get, that level of specificity to where a gunshot came from, to be armed with that kind of knowledge, it's just a tremendous tool to have in your possession," Goodbee said.

If approved, the system could be installed in Detroit by Spring 2012, Detroit Police Deputy Chief André Simenauer said.

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