May 23, 2023 - News

Cleveland to expand ShotSpotter to all five police districts

Illustration of a collage featuring a handgun, a street light and circular lines.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The City of Cleveland will expand ShotSpotter technology to all five of its police districts after a three-year pilot in one district on the city's southeast side, Mayor Justin Bibb announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The controversial technology, which uses audio sensors perched on light poles and buildings to triangulate outdoor gunfire, has improved law enforcement response times.

What they're saying: "The ShotSpotter technology is an incredibly important element that is greatly improving the capabilities of police officers to act swiftly in the event of critical incidents," said Cleveland police chief Wayne Drummond, in a statement.

  • "Data reflects that shootings are responded to faster, and lives are saved, which is by far the greatest benefit."

Zoom in: According to the city, the ShotSpotter pilot in the fourth district recorded 10,000 incidents of gunfire and was "instrumental" in saving 12 lives, as police and EMS responded fast enough to provide first aid.

  • Police confiscated 66 firearms as a result of ShotSpotter alerts.

Reality check: Research has suggested that ShotSpotter has not been proven to reduce serious violent crime, and that it increases the number of high-intensity interactions between police and civilians.

By the numbers: The $2.76 million expansion will be funded through federal stimulus funds.

  • The city also says it is finalizing a contract with Cleveland State University's Criminology Research Center to evaluate ShotSpotter's effectiveness locally.

The other side: Local activists in the racial justice movement have decried the technology and questioned its value.


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