Drug dealers pay for ShotSpotter

ShotSpotter uses sound to identify a shooter's exact location
ShotSpotter uses sound to identify a shooter's exact location

Written by: Eileen Jones - bio | email
Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery's mayor unveiled several new projects Thursday that he says will drastically change west Montgomery, making it safer and more livable.

The plans include beautifying the entrance to Montgomery along Interstate 65, making West Fairview Avenue more pedestrian friendly with sidewalks and more landscaping, providing more affordable housing at Lanier Place and new homes along the Voting Rights Trail.

Beginning Thursday a new technology is also in place to help reduce crime. WSFA was at MPD headquarters when a demonstration of the ShotSpotter was given.

The computer system makes a noise that sounds like a ray gun from Star Trek. That's the test sound of a gunshot going off somewhere in Montgomery. Now, with this new technology officers will be able to arrive at the crime scene not within minutes - but seconds.

"Not only does it tell the officers the address, or the closest responding address, but it tells the officers within a very short period of time exactly what happened," explained Gregg Rowland with ShotSpotter. "How many shooters? How many rounds were fired? If the shooters were moving in a drive-by we can tell you what direction and speed that vehicle's moving in."

Sensors located around a one square mile area will give officers just about all the information they need to catch the bad guy, but what if the bad guy uses a silencer?

"If you're inside a house with all the windows closed and you're shooting somebody, even without a silencer we may not hear it...," Rowland said. "We're not going to pick it up. The good news is the FBI tells us that most violent crimes are committed outdoors, and without silencers."

Even with this new way of solving crime the police chief says 'please don't stop doing it the old fashion way with people calling in to report a crime'.  "When people call in that's very important. One, they're telling us exactly what's going on. Two, they also are witnesses to what's going on and that other part after we catch the bad guys we still have to take them to court," said Chief Art Baylor.

The ShotSpotter costs the city $200,000 for the set-up, and will cost an additional $30,000 a year for upgrades, maintenance and other support. Where is that money coming from? It's money that was seized from drug dealers.

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