'Shot Spotters' becoming the ears of crime hotspots

2016-07-02 11:49
Mayco member JP Smith (Jenni Evans, News24)

Mayco member JP Smith (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - Many people living in the city's crime hotspots have become so used to hearing gunshots they have stopped calling the police.

As a result a little gadget called a "Shot Spotter" was introduced in Cape Town to help the response to crime.

"Where CCTV looks at crime, the Shot Spotter listens to crime," mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith said on Friday.

After realising that an average of only one in six shootings was being reported to police, the City of Cape Town tested the Shot Spotter gunfire detection technology in Hanover Park, and had since expanded it to Manenberg.

It was only being used so far in Cape Town and in Kruger National Park. Smith said it had helped the city keep track of shootings.

When a shot went off, the Shot Spotter triangulated the location, allowing officers to respond to within 2m of where it was fired.

He said that internationally, fewer people were reporting shootings. The reasons varied - because communities did not trust the police, or did not want to get involved.

But the effect was that law enforcement officers were left in the dark over the true crime rate, particularly in poorer communities.

"If your complaints from poor communities are very low, then you have a distorted response," said Smith.

Crime intelligence

The problem with not reporting crime or shootings, he explained, was that authorities did not know where to send more officers when doing their planning.

Gangsters knew that because few people called in shootings, there would be a weak police response.

The Shot Spotter was intended to provide crime intelligence, and lead to a higher police response rate.

Speaking at a provincial policing needs meeting for the Blue Downs policing cluster in Delft on Friday, Smith urged residents to report crime to 107 and 10111, not just to summon help, but to help police compile crime statistics.

He and Western Cape safety and security MEC Dan Plato laid out the plans to improve policing in the cluster.

This included training more Community Policing Forum (CPF) members and getting better technology such as CCTV into places like Delft.

Everybody had a role to play in eradicating crime, from CPF and neighbourhood watch members, to auxiliary officers and reservists.

Even the curtain-twitching granny who noticed somebody pushing a ''too heavy'' wheelie bin down the road at night could help by letting police know.



Read more on:    dan plato  |  jp smith  |  cape  |  town  |  gang violence  |  crime

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