Shotspotter

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Issue Lie Truth
Shotspotter

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🤪 Unreasonable
If we spend enough of other people's money we can use technology to combat gun-violence and make a real difference. Shotspotter is a series of microphones and computers to detect where a gunshot happens and call cops to the scene of the crime quicker, at the bargain basement price of ≈$250,000/square mile (or about $60-90K/sq mi in yearly reoccurring costs). Shotspotter isn't a gun law, it's more a boondoggle: a useless tax on the public that has no inherent return on investment. Progressives are full of good ideas on how to spend other people's money, and systems like this appeal to those who watch too much CSI, and don't understand guns, policing, technology or common sense. Response times are based on how many distractions you send cops on, and the number of false positives and false negatives and overwork mean that this system isn't helpful. So the solution is to scale it up anyways.
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Progressives are full of good ideas on how to spend other people's money on ways to avoid blaming criminals for their actions. This one was by spending ≈$250,000/square mile (or about $60-90K/sq mi in yearly reoccurring costs), you could detect and send cops to scenes of shootings. And liberals who watch too much CSI pressed many cities to adopt the expensive systems.


How are they working?

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  • 7 of 90 cities responded to request for information. You can view the raw data here: http://images.forbes.com/special-report/2016/shotspotter/static/data/ShotSpotter-Data.zip
  • Police were unable to find evidence of gunshots between 30%-70% of the time.
  • Oakland abandoned their system ($264K/year on contract), because over 76% of the shot were called anyways.
  • In San Francisco alerts 4,400 times, lead to 1,400 "unable to locates," 3,000 ignored alerts, and total of 4 arrests or citations.
  • Milwakee has had the best results: out of 10,285 alerts (and 7,201 "unable to locates"), they made 172 arrests.

I'm not against technology, or certainly not against things that might stop crime or result in faster response times. But the truth is that most people report gunshots. Place that don't, do not because of slow police response times -- which aren't improved by spending their money on listening systems instead of on more cops and/or training. And since the gross majority (76%+ in the worst cities) are called in anyways, and it doesn't change response time, the cost per arrest, is astronomical. Of course that's hard to calculate when most won't report the actual costs (and certainly not the cost per false alarm).

So if your city is good at police work (fast response times) and the community trusts it, this won't matter -- since the data is redundant and at worst it's a lot of false alarms that decrease quality.

But if your city is bad at police work (slow response times), then they aren't going to respond quick enough to matter, and it will do nothing to change the relationship between the police and community.

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📚 References