MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Increased gun violence in north Minneapolis and a call for added protection has police asking to expand the ShotSpotter program.

The City Council will vote Friday to provide extra funding to expand the program that officers say is a valuable crime fighting tool. The city wants $300,000 more to expand the program to other parts of north Minneapolis.

Since Minneapolis Police adopted ShotSpotter technology in 2005, it has helped solve murders and other violent crimes that otherwise would have gone unsolved.

With a decrease in the number of officers on the streets and an increase in gun violence, however, some feel expanding this technology is necessary to combat crime.

“ShotSpotter picks up the audio files of gunshots,” said Command Scott Gerlicher.

The technology then relays the exact location of the gunshots to officers, allowing them to get to the scene of a crime faster.

Since 2005, ShotSpotter has been enhanced. Before, the technology had a hard time distinguishing gunshots from fireworks.

Now, it’s now more accurate and is helping investigators get criminals off the street.

“This technology has helped us in the past to solve homicides aggravated assaults,” Gerlicher said.

Ward 5 City Councilman Blong Yang says he believes the technology is needed to help people who live in north Minneapolis feel safe.

“Let’s just be honest here. Gun violence in North Minneapolis is much higher than elsewhere in the city. We recover more guns up in north Minneapolis by, you know, probably by five times if not a lot more than that, so…that is a problem we have to remedy,” Yang said.

Yang says he knows people want funding for programs, jobs and housing in north Minneapolis. He believes that before you get all that you first need safe neighborhoods.

“You have to help people to feel safe so that we can move on to those programs you talked about,” Yang said.

Officers say ShotSpotter paired with cameras that zoom in on an area where shots are fired to catch offenders in the act is making an impact on the quality of life of people in North Minneapolis.

Gerlicher says ShotSpotter is not the end-all-be-all tool, but it’s technology officers trust and count on to give them an edge in dealing with gun violence.

Gerlicher says officers know if they get a call and ShotSpotter hits on an area, chances are extremely good they will find what they need to get to the bottom of that situation.

Minneapolis has a contract to keep the program running for the next three years at a cost of $300,000.

Authorities will not reveal what a ShotSpotter looks like or where they are located. It’s unknown to the public just how many devices are scattered across the city.

Reg Chapman

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