Detroit mayor pushes for ShotSpotter after Sunday’s random shootings

‘How is someone spending a half hour with a dead body laying on the sidewalk on Wyoming standing nearby and nobody comes, and he murders a second person three blocks away’

A piece of technology that's in parts of Detroit wasn't there to alert police when someone started shooting people at random. On Tuesday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is pushing to expand the coverage of ShotSpotter despite some privacy concerns. The idea is simple: make sure police can react when a gunshot is fired instead of waiting for someone to call 911.

DETROIT – A piece of technology that’s in parts of Detroit wasn’t there to alert police when someone started shooting people at random Sunday.

On Tuesday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is pushing to expand the coverage of ShotSpotter despite some privacy concerns.

The idea is simple: make sure police can react when a gunshot is fired instead of waiting for someone to call 911.

Some city leaders believe ShotSpotter could have saved one or more of the three lives lost to an active shooter Sunday (Aug. 28) morning.

And as we await official charges, in that case, Duggan and others are speaking out in favor of the technology.

Read: Police believe suspected shooter who ‘terrorized’ Detroit would have continued had he not been caught

During Sunday’s active shooter emergency, Duggan said police told him:

“If we had had ShotSpotter there’s an excellent chance we would have arrested him by five in the morning.”

“(ShotSpotter) It takes the guesswork out,” said Detroit Police Captain Anthony O’rourke.

Some call the technology controversial, but Local 4 wants to show you precisely what it is and how it works.

“A person fires a sensor picks up that,” O’rourke said.

O’rourke took Local 4 inside the Detroit police real-time crime center to get a real example of how it works.

A ShotSpotter sensor in the area picks up the shots, and a ShotSpotter analyst will alert the Detroit Police Department, sending officers to the scene where the shots were fired.

The time from shots fired to dispatching officers is key.

“One minute,” O’rourke said. “Very quick. One minute. Take, for example, what happened Sunday with the active shooter. The faster we can get out there, start doing what we are able to do, the detective work, being able to identify video and picture assets, the quicker we could get somebody in custody.”

Sunday’s tragedy is re-igniting the call from the Duggan and police to spend $7 million in COVID Relief Fund to expand ShotSpotter in the city.

Those opposed argue that the money can be better spent elsewhere.

“How is someone spending a half hour with a dead body laying on the sidewalk on Wyoming standing nearby and nobody comes, and he murders a second person three blocks away,” Duggan said.


About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.