Over the past two years, the Cleveland police department has been using the ShotSpotter technology to detect gunshots, saying it allows officers to respond to shootings more quickly, Cleveland.com reports. ShotSpotter is intended to help officers respond to crime scenes as quickly as possible, which could save lives if anyone has been shot. It could also allow them to gather valuable information to aid in investigations. Activists and researchers have been skeptical of the technology, with some questioning the 97 percent accuracy rate frequently touted by its manufacturer company. They also question whether the technology is an effective tool to reduce violent crime, arguing that cities would see better results by investing in anti-violence programs and other measures. Cleveland is spending $205,000 per year for the technology. ShotSpotter is deployed in three square miles in the southeast part of the city, at an annual cost of $65,000 per square mile.
Cleveland is evaluating its results to decide whether to renew the contract with ShotSpotter. The decision will be made after input is received from the community and Cleveland City Council. Cleveland launched its pilot program for ShotSpotter in 2020, with the first year funded by the Cleveland Police Foundation. “The technology in our experience, performs well, and is accurate and timely,” the department said. “Officers are receiving more information about gunfire incidents faster and more accurately than ever.” In 2021, ShotSpotter technology alerted police officers to nearly eight gunshots per day in Cleveland. It also led officers to recover 34 guns and make 28 arrests. Police credited the technology with helping to save six lives, because officers and paramedics were able to respond to a scene quickly after victims had been shot.