Benton Township Police hoping to implement ‘ShotSpotter’ program

benton-township-police673111
benton-township-police673111

The Benton Township Police Department is working with Michigan State Police to bring new technology to the area that could help prevent gun crimes.

MSP Captain Michael Brown told the Benton Township Board of Trustees this past week ShotSpotter is a national program that detects when and where gunshots are fired. It can pinpoint the location to within 80 feet and has an accuracy rate of 97%. It automatically notifies police.

Brown told us more.

“ShotSpotter has acoustic sensors and they hear the gunshot and triangulate it and get the location to make it simple to the police officers and dispatch immediately,” Brown said.

The sensors are placed on utility poles and other infrastructure. State police want to bring the program to Benton Harbor and Benton Township to test out in a two square mile radius in total.

Benton Township Police Chief Greg Abrams told us it will be useful.

“I heard about ShotSpotter first in South Bend, how reliable the program was, how they were able to reduce their gun violence just recently, and ShotSpotter was a part of that,” Abrams said. “When Captain Brown reached out to me about that program, I was more than happy to listen and jump on board.”

The areas selected for coverage would be determined by crime statistics, but Brown said certain housing developments stand out as likely locations.

The cost would be $100,000 per year, mostly to be paid by Michigan State Police if the higher-ups approve it. Abrams said Benton Township’s cost would be $10,000 per year with a three-year commitment. Brown said he’ll know within about a month if the MSP will approve the program.

Trustees indicated their support and said they’d like even more coverage.

Also Tuesday, trustees approved the renewal of a program that will give quarterly retention bonuses of $4,000 to police officers and a $3,500 signing bonus. It’s expected to cost the township $80,000 for the year, to come out of the police budget.