It was touted a key tool in Savannah’s crime fighting toolbox.
Shotspotter, the technology that helps find out where and when potentially deadly bullets are fired.
But six months after it was introduced, is Shotspotter really making a difference?
That’s how much Savannah paid for the Shotspotter technology.
A lot of money for a department in need of more officers.
But while more cops on the street would be great, Savannah officials say the technology is helping make the jobs of the officers they have.. easier.
November 2014. A mother calls in and says her 6 year old daughter was shot.
Even before officers started their investigation at the scene, Major Richard Zapal had questions.
“And I’m not seeing anything and I hear the radio go off,” explained Major Zapal. “We have a shooting at E Broad and Liberty street. I’m looking and I see nothing.”
It turned out there was nothing. Savannah-Chatham Metro Police say Shauneequa Jones’ daughter was shot inside her own home the night before.
Jones was indicted months later, and now faces child cruelty and making a false statement charges.
“Its not CSI on TV where we find a motive and it tells us this the guy that did the shooting,” explains Zapal.
But Major Zapal says for Savannah-Chatham Metro Police it’s closer than ever before.
“Its getting us to the scene quicker,” explains Zapal. “Letting us recover stuff we can put into the NIBAN computer and its going to help us down the road more.”
That NIBAN computer, which stands for National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network, is a “gift” from the ATF that identifies what type of shell casings and bullets are found at crime scenes.
Shotspotter gets them to the scene, that technology helps solve the crime, and does it all faster than just having officers on the beat.
“2 officers out there sometimes you can’t determine exactly where it comes from,” said Zapal. “This gives us, I don’t want to see exactly how close we can get, but a lot closer than my ears can tell you.
Closer and quicker than officers alone, but without sacrificing safety.
“You think about it if someone is being shot at and they are a true victim, i’d want the police there quicker,” says an emphatic Zapal. “The technology works and its been working for the last six months.”
In addition to that initial investment – Savannah pays $135,000 a year for Shotspotter maintenance.
But its been so successful that Zapal and the SCMPD have applied for a $250,000 grant to expand the program to cover a larger area.
How big that area is we don’t exactly know.
That’s because Police want to keep suspects off guard. Never knowing where and when an officer, and his computer, could be watching.