Columbia becomes first South Carolina city to adopt Shot Spotter technology

The sensors have picked up 339 gun shots on its sensors over the last three weeks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — The Columbia Police Department is rolling out new technology to cut down on gun violence across the city.

With the number of incidents involving guns throughout his city at a high rate, Chief Skip Holbrook says his department had to take action.

“What we have seen is consistent levels that are two times the national average when it comes to violent crime. That’s not what anybody should have to put up with and certainly not the expectations we have for the quality of life everybody deserves in Columbia,” Chief Holbrook said.

Three weeks ago, Columbia became the first South Carolina city to use Shot Spotter.

The new technology uses acoustic sensors to pick up the sound of gunfire and send the precise location to law enforcement within 45 seconds.

“It saves lives, it improves the quality of life in neighborhoods, and it improves officer safety,” said Chief Holbrook.

According to Holbrook, since April 18, Shot Spotter sensors have picked up 339 gun shots taking place in a six square mile radius across North Columbia, leading to 13 arrests and 11 weapons seized.

Councilman Sam Davis says this technology will put people who fire guns in his district on notice.

“They don’t know where these things are located and they won’t know when law enforcement is going to show up, and as the Chief indicated, they show up in seconds now,” Davis said.

Chief Holbrook says of the 131 incidents called in the last three weeks through Shot Spotter, only 26 have resulted in a 9-1-1 call. He says that with 80 percent of gunshot incidents never reported to 9-1-1, he wants the new technology to compliment his citizens’ diligence.

“If you see something, say something. We are all partners in reducing gun crime in our city,” Chief Holbrook said.

Mayor Steve Benjamin says he hopes more sensors are put in other areas of the city.

Other cities that use Shot Spotter technology include Atlanta, Miami, Boston, and Chicago.

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