9 Investigates: CMPD to request $200,000 in upcoming budget to pay for ShotSpotter

by: Tenikka Smith Updated:


Charlotte Mecklenburg police will ask Charlotte City Council for $200,000 in the upcoming budget to continue to operate ShotSpotter.

The technology detects gunfire and made its debut during the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

Nearly three months ago, Eyewitness News anchor Tenikka Smith started digging deeper into how the system was working and asked if it's worth the city's investment and your tax dollars.

ShotSpotter technology monitors three areas of Charlotte including uptown, Grier Heights, and the Hickory Grove area.

It's been paid for through a federal security grant from the DNC and asset forfeiture funds, but to cover operating costs into 2015 CMPD will ask City Council for $200,000.

Channel 9 wanted to see what taxpayers could be paying, so we asked for an update on how ShotSpotter is working and its impact on fighting crime.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department said between August 2012 and Feb. 10, 2014 the system picked up more than 860 alerts across the city.

Major Steve Willis said ShotSpotter sensors can pinpoint officers to an 80 foot radius of where the shots were fired.

Willis said, "In some instances we found shell casings or found a damaged building or window or where people have shot signs."

To date, 17 of the ShotSpotter reports led officers to actual evidence or revealed other crimes like drug activity or assaults.

There have even been a few arrests including Dontavius Withers who was charged after shots were fired into a building from a parking lot on Yateswood Drive. 

Channel 9 took the data to Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield, who is also on the city's budget committee. 

"Is ShotSpotter a good thing? I think it’s a good thing," Mayfield said. "But when it was funded by a different source it was a great idea, now that we're looking at funding it. Are there other options for us to look at funding to keep our citizens safe?"

Johnson & Wales student Nicole Robinson was in Charlotte when ShotSpotter was first installed. She said, "It makes me feel safer walking the streets at night."

That's enough for Robinson to support the costs.

Major Willis said, "I think the technology is going to prove itself. It's just one of those things that you've got to deploy until you see that success."

CMPD will present its ShotSpotter data to City Council before it adopts the budget in June.

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