A Kent County Commissioner is pushing for new technology to curb gun violence.
Commissioner Robert Womack is in the early stages of the proposal but hopes to introduce software with artificial intelligence to detect gunshots in the city and send the information to police departments in real time.
'ShotSpotter' is used in dozens of cities across the United States, including major ones like Chicago and Minneapolis.
ShotSpotter has designated sensors scattered throughout areas and picks up sound based on decibels, to confirm gunshots. The sensors then send out real-time information to local law enforcement even before it may be called in by a citizen.
"It gives them a better, quicker response time to come out," said Womack. "When it comes to audio, I believe the community will be more receptive to the city and county having audio that only picks up when the audio is above a certain decibel level. So it’s not a listening device to talk in when you’re walking down the street."
The price tag could be as much as $1 million dollars to cover high-crime areas in Kent County such as Grand Rapids and Wyoming. They hope the funding could be allocated from the CARES Act.
"I do believe it is COVID related, as the COVID pandemic has caused a lot of extra work on our police department, seeing the extra work that is on our police departments during these times. Criminals feel more confident that they can do a shooting and have leisure time to get away. I believe it will help to eliminate some of the violence."
The proposal is still in early stages but Womack says he hopes to gain widespread support on the commission when a more formal plan is submitted and other financial details worked out.
The Kent County Commission has also recently allocated $500,000 for other initiatives to curb youth gun violence.