BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -We found out this week, the city of Birmingham was close to losing ShotSpotter service because it was behind on paying the bill.
The police department did work something out with ShotSpotter to keep it on. Despite that, the city just renewed its contract with the company because they say the gunfire detection technology is working.
"I think that the taxpayers are getting what they have invested in it,” Birmingham City Councilman Hunter Williams said.
Compared to this time last year, shots fired in the city of Birmingham are down a little over 14% percent according to Councilman Hunter Williams, who also chairs the public safety committee. The city credits that to ShotSpotter.
"We are collecting data on the amount of shots that are being fired…roughly 70-percent of shots that are fired do not come in reported through a citizen. They come in through our detection technology,” Williams said.
For at least the next three years, ShotSpotter will continue listening for shots. Tuesday city council voted to renew the contract for $2.6 million. Mayor Randall Woodfin says the technology is working to help bring down crime.
"ShotSpotter has not only provided value in our detection but overall in the chief has been here..all crimes against persons and property are down,” Woodfin said.
Williams says the city is continuing to look at different technologies that exist around gunfire detection.
"Whether it be adding visuals to the acoustic detection like ShotSpotter or whatever is available which is industry leading. We as the city of Birmingham have to do whatever we can to equip the officers that we’re asking to lower violent crime numbers and raise quality of life issues for the citizens which it comes to gunfire,” Williams said.
Williams says the ShotSpotter contract is over 200 pages long. For the past few years, we’ve been trying to get our hands on it to see if it’s worth the money. We are still waiting on the city to formally respond to our multiple requests.