Spotting a change-maker

As Sacramento leaders hail results of gunshot-sensing tech, CEO gets national nomination

The CEO behind a technology that alerts Sacramento law enforcement to possible gunfire in real time is a finalist for one of the nation’s most prestigious business awards.

Ralph Clark, CEO of ShotSpotter, has been nominated by EY for its 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year. In Sacramento’s case, police officers and sheriff’s deputies get notified within 60 seconds and receive GPS coordinates for the origin point of the gunfire. EY is a national data research and analytics firm.

The Sacramento Police Department began using ShotSpotter in 2015 in its north city neighborhoods. Council members were so impressed with the initial results that they expanded it, first to south Sacramento and most recently to Oak Park. The Sheriff’s Department also utilizes ShotSpotter in some of its south urban neighborhoods.

A week after it was announced that Clark was a finalist for entrepreneur of the year, police Chief Danial Hahn reiterated to the council how successful—and valuable—the program is.

“So far this year, through April, there have been 87 ShotSpotter activations through the system that have been followed up on by officers,” Hahn said of the sensors in Oak Park.

Sgt. Vance Chandler, a police spokesman, later told SN&R that there have been a total of 262 ShotSpotter activations citywide in the first four months of the year. He provided stats showing the activations have gone up every year as the program has expanded, with 491 activations in 2016, 760 in 2017 and 908 in 2018.

“We’d love to add [ShotSpotter] to all our areas,” Hahn said during the budget hearing.

Reacting to his nomination for the EY Award, Clark said in statement that his company believes strongly its mission.

“This is an honor,” he wrote. “We take pride in building a successful company that is an agent for positive change in at risk and underserved communities.”