One area of Buffalo may soon have technology that detects gunshots and automatically calls the police. All of Buffalo could have potentially gotten the technology, but the Common Council voted it out of the City of Buffalo budget for 2022. It's called Shotspotter.

Photo by Jay Rembert on Unsplash
Photo by Jay Rembert on Unsplash

What Is Shotspotter?

According to a fact sheet provided by the company, Shotspotter is technology helps makes communities safer by automatically calling authorities when shots are detected,

Police rely on the community to call 911 if gunshots are fired, but only an average of 20% of incidents are ever reported. This creates a situation where police departments have a large data gap that makes it difficult to be able to effectively “serve and protect” when it comes to gun violence. ShotSpotter fills the data gap with a network of acoustic sensors that can detect, locate and alert police to nearly all gunshot incidents.

While it sounds like an amazing technology that can potentially help stop gun violence, save lives, and get criminals off the streets, it's not without controversy.

An article published by the American Civil Liberties Union points out some of the issues with the technology and the company,

A critical report on the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system issued today by the City of Chicago’s Inspector General (IG) is the latest indication of deep problems with the gunshot detection company and its technology, including its methodology, effectiveness, impact on communities of color, and relationship with law enforcement.

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Could Buffalo's Masten District Get Shotspotter Soon?

While the Common Council shot down the proposal of using Spotshotter city-wide, Masten District Council Member Ulysees Wingo wants to bring the technology to his district. According to Fox 29, Councilmember Wingo said,

My constituents said this is a shame. Why are they taking this from us? Why would they not give us technology that would help make our streets safer?

He wants the Common Council to approve a six-month pilot program using the gunfire detection system in his district, at no cost to the city.

If the city decided to use Spotshotter, it would have cost $250,000 upfront, followed by a $70,000 per year subscription fee. Councilmember Wingo says the company reached out to him to offer the pilot program for free for six months.

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