KANSAS CITY, Mo. - There's a new crime fighter in town just in time for the Fourth of July, and according to Kansas City Police Chief Daryl Forte, it goes by the name of ShotSpotter.
ShotSpotter can acoustically detect a gunshot and pinpoint where the gunfire came from within 25 meters, within seconds. The hidden device, mostly located in the city's higher crime areas, can detect the difference between firecrackers and gunfire.
Chief Forte warned the public that guns should not be used to celebrate the holiday.
"Obey the law. With firearms - what goes up must come down," Forte said, "We've had homicides in the city 5 or 6 years ago where the first homicide was celebratory gunfire."
Last year, the city received almost 150 calls reporting gunfire from concerned citizens.
With the installation of ShotSpotter, police will be able to respond faster and more accurately on the Fourth than in the past when hundreds of people call in but are not sure where the shots came from or even what the sound was.
After having a few months to show if it was able to help bring crime down in the Kansas City area, the device has recovered more than a dozen weapons, drugs, hundreds of shell casings and landed a handful of felons in jail.
Chief Forte said until residents knew they were being watched by ShotSpotter, people in high crime areas who were used to guns being fired did not call.
"To me, community tends to come together when they know we are being responsive. To me, that's the primary benefit of this, bringing the community together and being responsive and getting the community involved. We can have all the technology we want, but if we don't engage the community we won’t be successful," Forte said.
Chief Forte says it has brought down crime such as aggravated assaults by 24 percent, but Kansas City's homicide rate has not budged since last year. There have been 52 homicides so far this year compared to last year’s 48.
Chief Forte and Congressman Cleaver both said they would like to push for more federal funds to expand the device.
Residents can expect ShotSpotter to stick around for a while. Congressman Cleaver has secured $720,000 in federal funds for the device for the next five years.
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