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Critics Say ShotSpotter Technology is Ineffective, Maker Disagrees

Critics of ShotSpotter technology used by police departments to detect gunshots say that the company's devices often confuse gunfire with other noises like slamming doors, Axios reports. The police reform group Campaign Zero argues that this is dangerous because when police are alerted to a possible gunshot, they often rush to a peaceful area on high alert. Based on a year-long study of ShotSpotter in dozens of cities, Campaign Zero has launched a campaign to "Cancel ShotSpotter." The campaign claims that ShotSpotter's supposed ability to distinguish between loud bangs and actual gunshots has never been independently verified. A study in Police Chief Magazine said police usually find no evidence of a gun crime when they respond to ShotSpotter's reports of gunshots. The group concludes that ShotSpotter does not help police departments fight violent crime.

ShotSpotter contends that from 2019 to 2021, its shot-detection devices had a 97 percent accuracy rate. The company says the figure is derived from police department reports and that it was audited by the data science firm Edgeworth Analytics. The company cited several academic studies and city reports that say the technology helped reduce violent crime. The technology also allows police to review a suspicious sound before they respond, a process that takes about 60 seconds. However, an Associated Press investigation found that ShotSpotter's technology has "serious flaws" after the news service reviewed thousands of documents and interviewed dozens of public defenders in cities using ShotSpotter.


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