Plan for "Operation ShotSpotter" Unveiled in Detroit

After rolling out the use of ShotSpotter in Detroit last year, some communities in Detroit are beginning to use data collected from the system to create targeted community outreach initiatives. The new initiative is lead by Scott Benson, a Detroit City Council Member representing District 3. Benson unveiled his plan on Wednesday and is calling it “Operation ShotSpotter.” 

ShotSpotter itself is a technology that uses acoustic sensors around the city, a base station in a police dispatch center, and software that monitors the audio feed for sounds characteristic of gunshots and triangulates their location based on time delays. In an evaluation conducted in 1999 by the University of Cincinnati,  “findings from the Shotspotter Field Evaluation indicated that overall, the gunshot location technology was able to annunciate (detect) nearly 80 percent of the test shots. Specifically, the technology annunciated shotgun rounds at the highest rate (90 percent) followed by pistol rounds (77 percent) and then assault rifle rounds (63 percent).” 

Screenshot of the ShotSpotter software from

 Last year, the Urban Institute published an interface based on data collected by the ShotSpotter system installed in Washington, DC. The article attached also highlighted the number of shots recorded by the system that occur near schools.

Reports of the efficacy of the ShotSpotter system from

Opponents to the ShotSpotter system cite cost as the technology is proprietary to one company. However, “Operation ShotSpotter” is a completely volunteer-run program that will partner with the police and other existing community groups to provide humanitarian outreach to neighborhoods affected by gun violence.

After the program was launched in 2014, the Detroit police chief said, "in all the incidents we [thought] were shootings, not one citizen called the police. That tells me people are so used to hearing gunshots in their neighborhoods, they don't consider it anything out of the ordinary. And that's sad."

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