Boston Says ShotSpotter Gives Cops A Head Start On Shootings


At first, Boston’s new $1.5 million gunshot detection system had its kinks, says the Boston Globe. The pizza-size ShotSpotter acoustic sensors, placed on rooftops and telephone poles in violence-prone areas, would sound an alarm in heavy rain and misclassify it as firecrackers. Boston’s old brick buildings and narrow streets made it hard for sensors to pick up some gunshots, prompting the head of Silicon Valley-based ShotSpotter Inc. to say Boston has “the hardest acoustics of any city we’re deployed in.”

Nine months since the city began using the high-tech system, police and the company say they have worked out most of the bugs. Police say the system enables officers to respond to gunfire an average of one or two minutes before someone calls 911. The 119 sensors have also contributed to 10 arrests. “It gives us a head start,” said Deputy Superintendent John Daley. “Sometimes, 911 calls come in three to five minutes afterward. Sometimes, they don’t come in at all.” The sensors have recorded 642 instances of gunfire this year, roughly three a day. The remaining 29,641 events recorded by the sensors, or 98 percent, have been firecrackers and other loud noises. The Rev. Bruce Wall of Global Ministries Christian Church in Dorchester, said police appear to be responding faster, cutting gunfire short.


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