Memphis Police Department installs first Shotspotters to detect gunshots

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis Police are deploying a new tool to fight crime.  

They’re called Shotspotters. A series of sensors detects sounds, deciphers which ones are gunshots and is able to pinpoint a location for police.  

MPD began installing them Wednesday at 12 p.m. in a three-square-mile area of Orange Mound, but police won’t reveal how many they installed or provide specific locations.  

Orange Mound was selected because of its high volume of shots fired calls, MPD Director Michael Rallings said.  

He said that with the help of the technology, MPD is able to dispatch “officers almost exactly to the point where those shots are fired so they’re already getting their quicker.”  

“That’s a good thing,” said Orange Mound resident Malise Lewis.  

Former Memphis City Council Chairman Berlin Boyd has been pushing the city to adopt Shotspotter technology for years. It’s already in use in more than 100 other cities.  

“I’m just excited. It took five years, but I’m excited that at least now, today, we can say Shotspotter is installed,” Boyd said. 

MPD’s Shotspotters were funded by a three-year, $650,000 federal grant.  

But in 2016, Memphis City Council set aside $500,000 to install Shotspotters for one year in an eight-square-mile area. The city never did this. 

“The money’s been allocated, it was allocated a long time ago but I think there was just pushback on if they felt that the technology would actually work,” Boyd said. 

Just hours after being installed, the value of Shotspotters soon became apparent as gunshot notifications began pouring in. 

“We couldn’t believe that there were 12 that had transpired within a four-hour period,” said Councilwoman Jamita Swearengen, who represents Orange Mound.  

Rallings urged the public to continue to submit tips to police since the Shotspotters don’t necessarily lead them to suspects.  

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