GRPD rehashes discussion on new tech to curb violence

Posted at 6:28 PM, Nov 02, 2016

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A recent increase in gun violence spanning the past three weeks has Grand Rapids Police considering new technology.

Since an October 9th shooting at a vacant clearance outlet during a large party there that left eight injured and 21-year-old Juwan Boykin, eight other shootings have occurred within city limits.

It’s a trend that’s concerning to local law enforcement, but far from off their radar.

“In part we had a very slow summer crime-wise, which is great. Unfortunately we’ve seen an increase,” said GRPD Chief David Rahinsky. “This isn’t acceptable to us and it’s not acceptable to the community.”

Rahinsky told FOX 17 today that several of the subsequent shootings following that October 9th incident were tied to the shooting that left Boykin dead, but could not say specifically which ones – telling us only that the acts were not random.

Now, a discussion that’s been going on for almost two years is garnering new importance in light of the increased violence. Shot Spotter, a unique system that relies on a network of censors placed throughout the city, has the capability to track and alert police to where a gunshot was fired. The hope is to cut down on their biggest hindrance in solving these cases – response time.

“In some of these instances we haven’t been called until well after the fact,” said Chief Rahinsky. “We’ve got some victims that are self-transporting themselves to the hospital, we’re arriving to the scene much later than we’d ideally like to.”

“What shot spotter would do is allow us to respond to these incidents the moment the trigger is pulled. The censors sense the audible gunshot, and the moment that it occurs, a car is dispatched to the scene.”

The hesitation to implement Shot Spotter in Grand Rapids is due in part to lack of public support and lack of funds for the expensive system. Rahinsky isn’t necessarily relying on it – he’s instead turned to the community method of policing he’s come to be known for, which means he’s relying on the public now more than ever.

“In a perfect world, we’d like to deploy it in the near future and I think what we’re going through at the moment as a community in terms of the uptick in violence is certainly going to make the conversation more relevant and more timely,” he said.

“So I think it’s an opportunity for us as a community to refresh the discussion and see if the public support is there to move forward.”