WPD sees "significant" decrease in gun fire with Shot Spotter - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

WPD sees "significant" decrease in gun fire with Shot Spotter

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Wilmington Police officers say Shot Spotter has decreased gun fire in our community "significantly." Wilmington Police officers say Shot Spotter has decreased gun fire in our community "significantly."

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – It's been a little over a year since the Wilmington Police Department started using a software program called Shot Spotter.

Your tax dollars paid for the software purchase and installation so we wanted to find out if it is really living up to its expectations.

According to the police department, the software uses acoustics to detect shots fired in the area.

WPD told WECT.com it was "state of the art technology" when they bought it. However, it does have some strengths and weaknesses.

"It's pretty much cut the number in half over a 12 month period," said Det. Kevin Smith with the WPD.

Smith told WECT.com that hundreds of shots were fired every month last year. But now, the number has dwindled to the 40's and even 30's.

It's a decrease the WPD's statistician calls "significant."

Shot Spotter has the ability to recognize the type of shot and the number of shots fired. It works by classifying loud noises by gunfire, fireworks and even explosions.

"Officers are always going to go to those calls," said Smith. "But it lets them know with more accuracy what kind of call they are going on."

Nonetheless, there are some glitches in the system.

The software, which operates out of California, requires "down time" for scheduled maintenance.

The Shot Spotter server just happened to be down when two of 2012's biggest murder cases happened in our community.

Those include the fatal shooting of Zhen Bo Liu. He was killed while delivering Chinese food in a local neighborhood.

Shot Spotter was also "down" when four people allegedly murdered Joshua Proutey in downtown Wilmington.

Smith was not at liberty to release details on the areas in which the server picks up gunfire, but he did say it's proven to be a valuable tool despite some minor glitches.

"There's probably some technical aspects that need to be tweaked," he said. "That's why we always run the numbers and we're always comparing them to what the 911 center data is."

Smith emphasized that the program is not meant to replace police work. It was purchased to serve as an additional tool for the force.

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