Saginaw's acting police chief defends ShotSpotter - WNEM TV 5

Saginaw's acting police chief defends ShotSpotter

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Acting Saginaw police Chief Brian Lipe believes ShotSpotter - a surveillance system designed to reduce crime - is getting results.

"ShotSpotter has been very good for us. We've used it in court a few times to get convictions or assist us in getting convictions in homicides," Lipe said. 

Lipe admits there have been problems with the system. As a result the city has entered into a one year maintenance fee agreement with the ShotSpotter company at a cost of $63,000. And that has some taxpayers wondering where the money is coming from - especially with possible cuts to public safety looming.

"It was drug money that was forfeited by convicted drug dealers is how we're paying for it," Lipe said.

Lipe says the money will be used to fix anything that's broken with the system along with some new upgrades. This maintenance fee is an annual cost for the city to keep ShotSpotter running without any glitches. But Lipe says his department can't use drug money every year to cover the cost. So he's looking to the federal government to provide some funding in the future.

"Hopefully we can identify some grants that will help us," Lipe said.

Despite the ShotSpotter technology, there is still violence and unsolved homicides. So WNEM.com wanted to know if Lipe really thinks the crime-fighting tool is working.

"ShotSpotter doesn't cover all of the city. We have two systems that cover one square mile each. So two miles over an 18 1/2 mile city is covered by ShotSpotter," Lipe said.

That's only 10 percent of the city. But Lipe tells WNEM.com he still believes ShotSpotter will make a difference even if it only covers a small area.

"I believe that this system is going to be invaluable now that the camera systems are there and recording the events. And I think it's going to be a very good tool for us," Lipe said.

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