March 14--Pittsburgh police officers responding to an alert from the city's gunshot detection system in July found an 18-year-old woman shot in the back and lying face-down on North Homewood Avenue in Homewood.
In an incident two months later, Officer Jareb Kubissa arrived on Oakwood Street in East Hills seconds after receiving a similar alert and found a 31-year-old man bleeding badly from a gunshot wound to the leg.
Both victims, who were not identified, are alive today because the system known by the trade name ShotSpotter directed officers to the crime scenes in time to apply first aid, police Cmdr. Jason Lando said Wednesday.
"It's been an invaluable tool to help us not only help people, but to recover evidence, which will lead to a successful prosecution of cases," said Lando, who oversees the Zone 5 station, the city's busiest. "Overall, we found we're able to get to victims and to crime scenes quicker."
The ShotSpotter system covers a 3-square-mile area of the East End, but the city plans a $3.3 million expansion that would cover a total of 18 square miles citywide. City Council voted unanimously to move the proposal to a final vote next week.
"I'm supportive, and I know it's a big dollar commitment, but we really are getting our money's worth with this technology," said Councilwoman Deb Gross of Highland Park.
The system would provide coverage in neighborhoods where gunshots most frequently occur, starting with 4.5 square miles in the North Side, according to Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich.
ShotSpotter has directed police to 2,278 East End gunshot incidents since the system started operating in 2015, according to Hissrich. Officers found 83 gunshot victims and made 48 arrests over that period, he said.
Council last week approved a $5 million contract for the purchase of security cameras. Hissrich said the cameras will activate and move toward the sound of gunfire when ShotSpotter signals an alert.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @bobbauder.
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