'ShotSpotter' not curbing violence and only delaying HPD response times, Houston Chronicle reports

Mayra Moreno Image
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
ShotSpotter not curbing violence, delays response times, Chron reports
Houston Chronicle reporter Yilun Cheng speaks with ABC13 about new data suggesting ShotSpotter being less-than-successful in the city.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It has been three years since the city of Houston implemented its "ShotSpotter" technology in hopes of making a dent in gun violence right in the communities that need it.

However, a new report by our partners at the Houston Chronicle shows that the millions of dollars spent on this program have so far led to dead-ends.

SEE MORE: 13 Investigates: HPD's technology can detect gunshots down to a home's backyard

The technology is mainly embedded in the Black and brown communities, but the report states that not only is this program not making a huge difference, it is also making them feel uncomfortable about their relationship with law enforcement.

Chronicle reporter Yilun Cheng said they followed the reports HPD was making at city council meetings in regards to the program. They were concerned about the results and started requesting more information and data.

Here's part of what they found:

Out of approximately 6,300 alerts between December 2020 and March 2023, more than 80% were canceled, marked as unfounded, dismissed as information calls, or closed because officers could not find evidence upon arrival.

In addition, HPD revealed in a February report to city council that officers recorded only 99 arrests and 126 charges out of 5,450 alerts, and half of those charges were misdemeanor offenses, with the most common being illegal discharge of a firearm.

There is more that they found while investigating.

"Another concerning finding in this story: not only is it not making a difference when it comes to curbing violent crime, it's actually, in many cases, distracted police officers from responding to other traditional 911 calls," Cheng said. "ShotSpotter has received criticism the past 20 years. Those concerns range from privacy concerns, to the risk of over-policing in Black and brown communities, and some people claiming there are too many false positives."

Of course, there is more to this in-depth piece by Chung. She interviews many prevalent people for her report, including HPD and community members. You can find the full article to this story here.

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SEE ALSO: HPD response taking longer than in the last 2 decades, Chron reports

The Houston Chronicle shares with ABC13 its findings on police response times to crimes.