COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It’s been a little more than three weeks since the Columbia Police Department deployed its new gunshot detection technology, but the numbers that have returned are unbelievable to Chief Skip Holbrook.
Chief Holbrook said ShotSpotter, the new acoustic gunshot detector used by the Columbia Police Department, posted 131 alerts in 24 days where over 300 shots were actually fired.
“The folks behind the technology said, ‘Look, gunfire goes underreported in areas where you have a lot of gunfire by about 75-80 percent’ and I was thinking I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I said, ‘There’s no way! 75 or 80 percent?’” Holbrook said. “So, we kept looking at it. Unbelievably, that’s exactly what the data showed us.”
What was more stunning to Chief Holbrook was the number of calls his department received regarding those gunshots.
“Of those alerts, a citizen only called 9-1-1 26 times,” he said, “and that’s alarming.”
While those numbers have helped the police department, Chief Holbrook believes there’s still room for improvement
“It tells me we’ve got some work to do,” Chief Holbrook said. “Work to do in building some building some community trust. We’ve got to continue to work on relationships and we have to improve that communication between the public that we’re serving. Our officers are deeply invested in the communities that we serve and we value those relationships. It’s a headscratcher that you can have something like that go on in your neighborhood and somebody not pick the phone up and call.”
Chief Holbrook went on to say he’s troubled by some of the recent violence that has taken place in the city, especially with “young men of color.”
“We’ve got to disrupt that cycle,” Chief Holbrook said. “It’s not going to be the police that does that. It’s going to require community, very much community. One thing that we do know is we have to focus on the right people -- people that are trigger pullers are the ones that are causing us problems. They represent such a small part of the population. We have the technology, the intelligence, the human intelligence to identify who these offenders are and it’s our job to identify and arrest them. They’ve got to be held into account.”