PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Leaders in Philadelphia are considering expanding a new gun violence crime-fighting tool called acoustic gunshot detection.
City Council President Darrel Clarke recently got an overview of the technology called ShotSpotter.
Philadelphia police also told the council during budget hearings they've been testing and using a homegrown version that could be cheaper, more mobile, and more effective.
The ShotSpotter technology has been around for years and according to the company behind it.
They say 35 of the 50 largest cities in America incorporate it, including Trenton and Camden.
Camden Police Chief Gabe Rodriguez gave the Investigative Team a tour of the Command Room.
He pointed out a location where nine shots were fired and police were able to pinpoint the gunfire.
"The location where it's telling us is right in front of someone's steps. So that person is either shooting at the house or just came out of his house," he said. "Within seconds we're getting this activation, and within minutes, officers are there."
He said ShotSpotter is comprised of microphones throughout 85% of Camden that can pinpoint gunfire within a few feet.
The city incorporated the technology more than a decade ago and recently re-upped its contract for roughly $500,000 over four years.
"Can you say ShotSpotter has reduced crime here in Camden?" asked Action News' Chad Pradelli.
"I can, yes," Rodriguez replied.
Rodriguez said since 2016 shooting homicides are down more than 40% in Camden. Non-fatal shootings are also down almost 30% all while violence in large urban cities exploded.
The chief said prior to ShotSpotter, too often gunfire was never even reported to the police.
Now, officers are on the scene faster, victims reach the hospital sooner, and key evidence like ballistics can be collected, even if no one is arrested.
ShotSpotter has critics who say the technology misfires, call it inaccurate, and say that it rarely documents evidence of a gun crime.
Critics also say it results in very few arrests and unfairly leads to police stops in predominantly Black and Brown communities.
Tom Chittum spent 27 years in law enforcement and is a Sr. Vice President at SoundThinking, the company behind ShotSpotter.
"What do you say to those critics?" asked Chad Pradelli.
"Well first of all I think a lot of those critics are misinformed," replied Chittum.
Chittum claims the technology is 97% accurate and stresses his company's retention rate of clients is proof of its success.
"The hammer doesn't build the house. It's the carpenter that does and same thing here. We're a tool to help law enforcement do its job more effectively," he added.
"This has been proven here for 10-plus years. You know a tool we've been using and expanding because it's been so great to us," Chief Rodriguez agreed.
Philadelphia police also told the council the benefit of using its technology over SpotShotter would be to control its own data.
But, they say their model is still in its infancy.
Chicago and New York are among the cities that have recently extended their contracts with ShotSpotter spending tens of millions of dollars on the technology.