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Five Years Later, Shot Stopper Helps Police More Than Prosecutors

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A St. Louis Police Department vehicle is pictured in front of the old police headquarters in downtown St. Louis on November 7, 2012. Photo: UPI/Bill Greenblatt

A St. Louis Police Department vehicle is pictured in front of the old police headquarters in downtown St. Louis on November 7, 2012. Photo: UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - July 1 marked five years since St. Louis Police started using a gun-sensing technology called Shot Stopper to help them pinpoint where shots are being fired.

The crime-stopping advantage is clear, police say, but the prosecutorial advantage is less evident.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Chief Warrant Officer Ed Postawko compares Shot Stopper to video camera surveillance.

“They can be fantastic evidence or they cannot,” he said. “You have a surveillance camera and literally the crime happens three feet outside of the viewing area of the camera.”

Shot Stopper sensors, placed in high-crime areas, detect data from a gunshot.  The sensors can record the number of shots, where they came from, the type of gun used, and more.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says there are “several portions” of the city currently covered by Shot Stopper technology.

“Where we see it’s an asset is when police officers are even learning of a crime,” Postawko says. “Most time they rely on citizen reports but there are times where, for whatever reason, citizens are not calling in but the fact that gunshots have been fired in a particular area can be detected by Shot Stopper. That can give them a few extra minutes or seconds and sometimes those seconds can be crucial.”

Postawko says collecting the best evidence can come down to having as many tools as possible to prosecute crimes.

“Shot Stopper, surveillance video, DNA, fingerprints; you name everything else in the forensic arsenal,” he said. “Everything has its place where it’s the star and there’s other days when it’s not.”

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