MPD makes first arrest using new ShotSpotter technology

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Just two weeks after launching ShotSpotter, the new gun recording technology in Orange Mound, Memphis Police got some return on its investment.

Police responded to a ShotSpotter notification near Saratoga Avenue and arrested Pier Askew on April 11.

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Officers heard more gunfire a few blocks away and the system detected those gunshots a few seconds later.

According to the affidavit, when officers stopped Askew in that area, he had a loaded gun with an extended 26-round magazine plus another 13-round magazine.

Additionally, he had marijuana, oxycodone, and more than $1,600 in cash which officials say was from drug sales.

Newly retired police director Mike Rallings said the system would help officers respond to crime faster.

“It’s faster more accurate response to the scene, better recovery of any type of evidence, we’re about to get there and interview witnesses faster,” said Rallings during a previous interview about the technology.

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But Orange Mound native Britney Thornton still isn’t convinced. She believes ShotSpotter is still a reactive intervention, not a proactive one.

“That person who had the weed, the guns you know how could we have reached them before this engagement to curb those types of behaviors,”  said Thornton.

ShotSpotter’s website claims its system is 97 percent accurate which means there are some cases when police will get an alert for gunfire that didn’t actually happen.

Thornton said that leaves the potential cause for some negative drawbacks in this neighborhood.

“First responder fatigue, what it means for us to continue to dispatch resources without any kind of result that could be a waste of funds,” she said. “First responders showing up in heightened sense of paranoia to engage people.”

FOX13 Investigates requested data from the police department and ShotSpotters for the total number of alerts so far in Memphis and which calls didn’t result in a report.

ShotSpotter said they don’t release data and MPD is still working on our request.