Portland exploring ‘ShotSpotter’ technology to curb gun violence

Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 4:49 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Portland is taking a hard look at a technology being already being utilized by some major police departments across the country.

It’s called ShotSpotter, and it’s a surveillance system designed to pick up the sound of gunshots and alert police.

At recent meetings of Portland’s Focused Intervention Team community Oversight Group, or FITCOG, plans are being discussed to recommend this technology to Portland’s City Council.

FITCOG is a group of community members who work with PPB to reduce gun violence.

ShotSpotter works by installing sensors in various spots in a city, and when a gun is fired near one of the sensors, it sends an alert to police pinpointing the location and officers are dispatched there.

ShotSpotter’s company websites says cities like Miami and Pittsburgh are experiencing about a 40 percent reduction in homicides over multiple years because of the technology.

Dr. Gina Ronning is a FITCOG member who is an expert in criminal justice reform. She says ShotSpotter has caught the eye of Portland police and some community members.

“It was a mutual conversation between community members: PPB, the community safety partnership, and a variety of other folks,” said Ronning.

But Ronning says the placement of ShotSpotter sensors needs to be driven by crime data, and have a solid plan in place so certain areas of Portland aren’t monitored more or less than others.

“My perspective is that the technology has potential benefits so long as Portland follows a series of conditions around things the city as a whole and the community as a whole needs to consider.”

But Portland commissioner, Jo Ann Hardesty, says she has questions. One being she’s concerned about possible false alarms from ShotSpotter, and how an already understaffed PPB would handle these situations. Hardesty sent a statement on ShotSpotter to FOX 12 that reads in part:

A staff member with Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler’s office, says once FITCOG formally makes its ShotSpotter recommendation to city council, the mayor will share publicly his thoughts on the new technology.