Critics slam ShotSpotter, call it ineffective, biased, and expensive.

February 24, 2024
1 min read


  • Critics argue that ShotSpotter, a gunfire detection system, is ineffective, biased, and costly.
  • Some major cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Portland have opted not to use the technology due to various concerns.

Article Summary:

Critics of the ShotSpotter gunfire detection system have raised concerns about its effectiveness, bias, and cost. While the technology aims to detect gunfire and improve police response times, some major cities have decided against deploying it. Chicago, Atlanta, and Portland are among the cities that have deemed the system expensive, racially biased, and ineffective.

The debate surrounding ShotSpotter comes at a time when the US is facing a surge in gun violence, making the need for accurate and efficient crime-fighting tools essential. Despite claims from ShotSpotter about the system’s benefits, critics argue that it is more of a “public safety theater.”

Issues raised by critics include the high cost of the service, unreliable results, and the potential for over-policing in communities of color. While ShotSpotter maintains a high accuracy rate in detecting outdoor gunshots, reports from cities like Chicago and Houston suggest that police responses to alerts rarely lead to the recovery of gun-related evidence or arrests.

Moreover, concerns about racial bias have been raised, with some alleging that the technology is intentionally deployed in areas with high crime rates, which often coincide with predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods. This has sparked calls for investigation by organizations like the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Despite these criticisms, cities like Chicago have decided to end their contracts with ShotSpotter, citing a desire to focus on more effective crime-fighting strategies. Moving forward, the debate over the use of technology in law enforcement and its impact on communities of color continues.

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