Columbus Police plan expansion of ShotSpotter technology

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — We know what it does, and now we’re learning how police officers are using it.

ShotSpotter is a new piece of technology that helps Columbus officers know when and where someone shoots a gun.

On New Year’s Day, it detected more than 300 instances of celebratory gunfire.

Right now this technology is only in three Columbus neighborhoods: Linden, the Hilltop, and the southside of Columbus, but officers said even though ShotSpotter isn’t throughout the city, it still helps them piece together crimes.

For about an hour on Tuesday morning, Columbus Police Officer John Thiel searched an alley near Midland Avenue for shell casings or any evidence that there was a shooting the night before.

“Last night at 6:30, there was a single shot,” said Theil. “A couple of witnesses observed a male, black running through the houses.”

He even went door to door asking neighbors if they saw or heard anything last night.

In many cases, the search for a shooter who didn’t injure or kill anyone would hit a dead end, but not here in Columbus.

Thiel hopes this investigation leads to the reckless shooter.

“It’s not that we’re targeting the innocent, we’re trying to help the innocent and you know the victims,” said Thiel. “You know we’re looking for the suspects.”

It could be a suspect Thiel said could be involved in other shootings and a danger to the community.

“I follow up the next day,” he said. “Not all the eyes are on the witnesses.”

Jemerrah Jones remembered hearing the gunshot but said police were already there less than a minute after the shot was fired and that’s thanks to the ShotSpotter alert.

“Yeah, it woke me up,” said Jones. “If you’re shooting and you’re missing, you’re going to get caught because they came fast.”

That’s why Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said this technology is here to stay.

“We have it built into the budget for this year to expand it in all three areas, and expand it to an additional area further east,” said Quinlan

That is news Jones is happy to hear.

“You better be more careful because they out here and they got new technology,” said Jones.

Thiel said if a shell casing or a bullet is found, they then run test on it to check their database for a potential gun or shooter.

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