CNN: Critics of ShotSpotter gunfire detection system say it’s ineffective, biased and costly 

February 24, 2024

The non-profit Electronic Privacy Information Center felt so strongly about that claim its lawyers asked the US Department of Justice to investigate in September 2023. 

The group alleged in a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland that ShotSpotter targets majority-minority neighborhoods in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination by any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. 

“State and local police departments around the country have used federal financial assistance to facilitate the purchase of a slew of surveillance and automated decision-making technologies, including ShotSpotter,” the letter states. “Based on publicly available information, the (Department of Justice) has awarded over $57 million in grants to local police departments through Smart Policing Programs.” 

The DOJ has received the letter but – to the non-profit’s knowledge – has not acted on it, the group’s senior counsel Ben Winters told CNN. 

“The cities canceling it (ShotSpotter) really reflects the myriad (of) problems with the technology, and we’re hopeful the DOJ can act to make these contract cancellations more sweeping, at least insofar as they were purchased with federal funds,” he said. 

Read more here.

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