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ShotSpotter success: New system off to a good start

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Nick Carnevale, an officer with the Greenville Police Department, left, and Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman explain the use of the ShotSpotter technology Thursday morning.

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Friday, February 22, 2019

Greenville Police already are seeing results from a new gunfire detection system.

ShotSpotter detects shots fired, pinpoints their location and alerts law enforcement within seconds, allowing officers to quickly get to the scene, gather evidence and possibly make an arrest.

Using the system, police recently made an arrest and weapon recovery  On Thursday, during a launch event to promote the recently implemented technology, Greenville Police Chief, Mark Holtzman shared the success story.

“Our early success came just a few days ago,” Holtzman said.  “We had a shots fired call which came in on Kennedy Circle. There were a total of 12 rounds fired.The alert came in directly to the police officers.”

After receiving the alert, officers quickly responded and were able to gather evidence, conduct surveilance and make an arrest. 

“Many officers went to the location on Kennedy Circle, really sort flooded the neighborhood, and began to collect evidence, talking to neighbors,” Holtzman said. “And even though the suspects had sort of slipped away and got into another house, we were beginning to gain intelligence and information.”

Greenville Police respond to hundreds of shots fired calls each year and that is something that Holtzman wants to address. 

“This is gunshot technology designed to make our community safer,” he said.  “We have over 500 reported gunshots that are fired in our community every year. Out of those 500, less than half of those are even reported. 

“When you have that level of gunfire, 500 to 1,000 year after year after year, you have to do something about it,” Holtzman said. “You just can’t accept that as normal for your community. Out of those 500 reported gunshots, we have 55 injured persons by gunfire every year just in the city of Greenville.”

Holtzman said ShotSpotter allows police to respond quickly and gather evidence because they know where to go and get information before 911 dispatchers. 

“(ShotSpotter) sends an alert automatically to the police department for any outdoor gunfire in the protected are in 30 to 45 seconds,” he said. “That’s a huge advantage for us. That’s not relying on a 911 call.

“We still want the community to call, but this has already given us a pre-alert and sending us a map with a dot on the map where it believes the gunfire took place,” Holtzman said.  

Holtzman said that the system is an important tool to respond quickly and safely. 

“Accuracy and reporting is huge for us,” he said. “We no longer just drive through looking around.  We can drive directly to the spot, we can get out of the car and begin to talk to people in the community.”

An early opportunity to gather evidence is another advantage, he said.

“It’s very important to collect all the evidence in these cases,” Holtzman said. “Collecting shell casings off the street is not garbage, it’s evidence for us.  They’re all going into a national database and ultimately we will be partnering with Rocky Mount Police in a database collection system that they have so we can link the shell casings to any weapons that we’ve recovered later on.” 

Holtzman said he hopes that the technology will deter shootings. Goals for this project include reducing illegal gunfire in city neighborhoods and making it safer for the people who live there.   

“We are about the community and we really want to change the behavior of the individuals in there,” Holtzman said.

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