Council considering technology that could help Springfield Police enhance public safety

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 11:05 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield Police Department is looking toward new technology to fight crime.

It will be up to city council to approve the program that could enhance community safety.

“Anything we can do to provide a better response when those calls go out, to uncover exactly how many are occurring. I don’t think all of them get reported,” said Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams.

He says he’s had his eye on the ShotSpotter technology for years.

“Yes, there’s some where it didn’t work. But the vast majority it’s really been a boon to their investigative ability in stopping gun violence,” he explained.

ShotSpotter uses sound waves to detect gunshots, and triangulate the position. The company says it provides a location to officers in 30 to 45 seconds. They can respond even before someone calls for help.

Sargent Jake Becchina, with the Kansas City Police Department, says the program has played a key role for the force for nearly a decade.

‘We treat a Shotspotter alert as though someone picked up the phone and called 9-1-1 and said I hear gunshots outside my house,” he said.

In addition to tracking repeat offenses, Sargent Becchina says the department uses the technology as a prevention tool. By tracking where and when shots are fired outdoors, officers can try to stop gun violence.

“In 2011, we had a little girl who was killed on the fourth of July by celebratory gunfire. She was at her family’s house and a bullet fired from over 1100 yards away, struck her and killed her,” he explained.

Though, he says, it doesn’t necessarily lower crime.

“It’s very hard to say because crime is so multi-factorial, especially violent crimes. There’s no way to say we wouldn’t have been there anyway.

There’s no way to say that we wouldn’t have also responded and apprehended somebody,” he says.

But, for the Kansas City Police Department, Sargent Becchina says the tool is worth the money spent.

“It enhances officer safety. It enhances productivity in the sense that you may hear gunfire and you may call and give an intersection but this gives a three to five meter circle. It’s going to give you intelligence you can’t get otherwise.”

Intelligence, Chief Williams says, will help to improve public safety in Springfield.

“This is something that I’m hoping that as we get there quicker and more responsive and be able to talk to people, maybe canvas the neighborhood and let people know that we care,” he said.

Chief Williams says he will use funds already in his department budget to cover the initial 3 year term of the agreement, with a cost of $430,000.

After that, he says he will decide whether or not to expand or terminate the program.

He also says that an area of town, where these sensors will be installed, has been identified but that information will not be released for safety reasons.

Council is scheduled to vote on this in two weeks.

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