Springfield’s police chief pushes for new crime-fighting tool to slow shootings

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Springfield’s police chief hopes a new crime fighting tool slows rising shootings in the city.

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams says the city has been seen increasing numbers for a few years now. In the numbers, sometimes buildings or cars are hit, and other times, people. The average this year through September is more than 27 reported shootings a month. That’s higher than the previous four years, which averaged about 19 per month. Chief Williams believes only about one in five shots fired incidents are ever reported to police.

Chief Williams believes the rising trend of shootings the last few years is, in part, due to the change in concealed carry law, that allows people to carry a gun without any training or a permit. So guns get involved in a dispute much quicker. And he believes the stress people are under this year, in the midst of the pandemic, has added to the problem. He’s hoping to get new technology to help fight the problem and respond to shootings quicker. He says it’s called shot spotter technology, and it uses sensors, sound waves and software to triangulate the location of gunfire and notify police.

“It’s been used throughout the country, proven very reliable, very useful to kind of help prevent those shootings from occurring, solve some more crimes, and then really give citizens that sense of safety and security when they do see the police responding, and we’re contacting them about what we discovered,” said Chief Williams.

ShotSpotter says it provides police a location within 30 to 45 seconds, so they can respond to an area, even before a 911 call. More than 100 cities nationwide, including Kansas City and St. Louis, already use the technology. The cost would be around 65 to 90 thousand dollars per square mile, per year. Williams believes it could be a valuable tool to fight gun violence on Springfield streets.

“If they didn’t hit somebody the first time, the potential exists they’re going to hit somebody the second time, and we want to prevent that from occurring,” Williams says.

Chief Williams says he made a budget request in 2019 for the technology, but it wasn’t approved because of COVID-19. He’s hoping the city may be able to purchase the equipment in the coming months.

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