San Antonio Ends Use Of Gunshot Alert System

The city says the system is expensive and ineffective. Other cities have had better results.

By Michael MarksAugust 21, 2017 1:41 pm

Over the past 18 months, as violence overwhelmed some neighborhoods in San Antonio, the City Council turned to technology to help solve the problem.

San Antonio purchased a system called ShotSpotter, which listens for the sound of a gunshot and then sends location information to law enforcement. But last week, the Council decided to discontinue using the system, citing the high cost and limited success of the program. During the year ShotSpotter was installed, San Antonio spent $375,000 on the system, plus $168,000 in officer overtime.

In San Antonio, officials linked just four arrests to ShotSpotter alerts. In Denver, police say a significantly larger number of incidents were identified by ShotSpotter. The difference appears to be in how the two cities defined ShotSpotter-related events.

Vianna Davila, a senior enterprise reporter for the San Antonio Express-News says San Antonio counted only incidents in which a ShotSpotter warning was issued, police arrived, and no other notification of trouble had been received by police. In Denver, law enforcement officials define ShotSpotter arrests more broadly, and have used ShotSpotter alerts to begin larger crime investigations – locating spent shell casings at the scene of a ShotSpotter alert, for example, and tracking down the gun involved.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.