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Oct 12, 2022

ShotSpotter gunshot detection system will be expanded from 3-square-miles to 13-square-miles after council approved the legislation during its meeting Monday night.

Currently ShotSpotter is only in a 3-square-mile pilot section in the 4th Police District that was paid for by a grant to the city. The pilot area touches Wards 1, 2, 4 and 6.

Funding of the expansion is close to $2.8 million from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act dollars. The new contract expires in 2024. An amendment added to the legislation calls for the Public Safety Department to spend up to $150,000 on an independent consultant that will review ShotSpotter’s effectiveness and report back to city council.

“If there is a tool we can add, if there is something else that we can do in addition to hoping that we get all of these police officers, have this influx in officers to patrol our streets, to sit on every corner, which we know is not the case, then I’m all for it,” said Ward 10 Councilman Anthony Hairston during a Finance Committee meeting Monday.

Council held three hearings on ShotSpotter in the past three weeks, including two in the Safety Committee, where police officials presented results from ShotSpotter over the past two years.

According to police numbers, nine lives have been saved following a ShotSpotter alert, along with 44 arrests and 52 guns seized, directly tied to use of the technology.

Average police response time in the area with the technology is more than two minutes shorter than in the rest of the 4th District. But it’s still above eight minutes on average.

The police found that so far this year, only 9% of shootings in the city have produced a call to 911.

Councilman Kevin Conwell, who started advocating for gunshot detection systems nearly six years ago, said that too many residents who routinely hear gunshots don’t call 911.

“People who hear gunshots a lot go numb…but ShotSpotter never does,” Councilman Conwell said.

Councilmembers who supported the expansion said the need to combat gun violence in their neighborhoods outweighed the other concerns about the technology.

“And how we can justify in the city of Cleveland, and not sit here and throw everything, everything, but the kitchen sink at this (gun violence) is beyond me,” said Council President Blaine Griffin.