Monday, March 23, 2015

Gunfire continues trending downward in ShotSpotter areas

We began using the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system in October 2012, and it has continued to bring about positive results. The system monitors 3.5 square miles of the urban core that historically have had a high incidence of gunfire. We recently received data from SST Inc. (ShotSpotter’s parent company) to indicate a significant reduction of gunfire in those areas from 2013 to 2014.

Kansas City experienced a 15 percent reduction in gunfire incidents in 2014 compared to 2013. You might recall that there was a 26 percent reduction from the first half of 2013 to 2014. The latest data show the decrease continues, and that means our residents are safer.

SST Inc.’s studies have shown that as much as 80 percent of illegal gunfire goes unreported. Thanks to ShotSpotter, our officers have been able to respond to and make arrests in shootings that police might otherwise never have known about. On average, our officers respond to at least four ShotSpotter calls every day.

So why are the incidents of gunfire trending downward in these neighborhoods? There are many reasons, but I believe the primary one is community engagement. Sadly, hearing frequent gunfire had become common in these areas. Residents didn’t report it because they were scared or thought police wouldn’t do anything about it. Now they see that we are doing something about it, and we are here to make their block safe again. When we show up at these shots fired calls now, people come out of their homes to ask us what is going on. They are learning that we will be there and they can talk to us.

The ShotSpotter Flex system from SST Inc. is a partnership between the Kansas City Missouri Police Department and Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), with federal funding for the project secured by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. The $720,000 grant funds five years of ShotSpotter service, equipment installation, and maintenance. As we come into year three of the service, we will continue to seek funding sources to keep ShotSpotter going and possibly expand it.

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