Gunfire sensors are working, say police chief and Cleaver

Since October, sensors that detect gunfire on Kanas City streets led to six felony arrests and recovery of more than a dozen guns.

Police Chief Darryl Forté announced the statistics Tuesday at a press conference with U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.

He also said the system led to quickly finding a wounded victim, a body and the recovery of hundreds of shell casings and dozens of rounds of live ammunition.

Cleaver, who helped obtain federal funding for the 5-year, $720,000 project, said he would use the results to argue for more money to expand it.

The ShotSpotter system currently covers a 3.5 square mile area that police do not disclose. Gunfire sounds in the area go to a company operations center, which can dispatch details to police in less than a minute.

Forté said that has led to quick police responses that have impressed citizens and gotten them more involved.

“The community tends to come together when they know we’re being responsive,” he said. “When you fail to protect, there is always disconnect.”

Since the system started, he said, there has been about a 25 percent decline in aggravated assaults where it is located.

He would like to expand it to four other high crime areas of the city, he said.

Cleaver said the system is not a solution to crime, “it is a strategy implemented to demonstrate to hoodlums there is a new system in town.”

It also gets the public more involved, he said. “When the public gets more involved the neighborhood automatically becomes a safer neighborhood.”

The system also detects the difference between gunshots and firecrackers and car backfires.

Forté said that people who shoot guns in the air on July 4 can expect police response and should not do it.

“When the projectile goes up,” he said, “it has to come down.”

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