Study: ShotSpotter increases police response times

Occurred: December 2020-

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The use of gunfire detection system ShotSpotter by Houston police made little impact on gun violence in the area it covered and distracted police from other calls to help.

Out of approximately 6,300 alerts between December 2020 and March 2023, more than 80 percent were canceled, marked as unfounded, dismissed as information calls, or closed because officers could not find evidence upon arrival, according an investigation by the Houston Chronicle.

Furthermore, the report revealed that the use of the system distracted officers from other calls for help as every ShotSpotter alert was treated as a top-priority report that warranted an immediate response - an approach that sparked concerns over inefficiency and risks of over-policing. 

The less than 20 percent likelihood of a ShotSpotter alert resulting in an incident report was about half the rate of traditional 911 calls, Douglas Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, told the Chronicle


Operator: Houston Chronicle
Developer: SoundThinking/ShotSpotter
Country: USA
Sector: Govt - police
Purpose: Detect gunfire
Technology: Deep learning; Neural network; Machine learning
Issue: Capacity/resources; Effectiveness/value
Transparency: Governance; Black box