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Learning about ShotSpotter — and Gun Violence — from Chicago

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2024

This article discusses research on outcomes from the use of gunshot detection technology in Chicago and Kansas City on police officers’ response to crime reports.


This brief article discusses the use of ShotSpotter, a popular gunshot detection technology that uses a network of acoustic sensors to pinpoint the location of gunfire and alert police. The author describes the awarding of a grant from the National Institute of Justice to his team, to evaluate the effect of ShotSpotter in Chicago, Illinois, and Kansas City. He summarizes the research team’s data collection and analysis, which reviewed more than 15 years of crime and law enforcement data and incorporated a matched quasi-experiment, to provide “apples-to-apples” comparison in their analysis. The Chicago-based research found that police officers stopped their patrol cars more often and closer to the location of reported gunfire when responding to ShotSpotter alerts than 911 calls, as measured by GPS coordinates in patrol vehicles. The recovery of illegal firearms also increased in police districts covered by ShotSpotter, especially at the scenes of fatal shootings, however ShotSpotter failed to reduce the occurrence of shots-fired calls for service, fatal shootings, non-fatal shootings, or other violent felonies committed with firearms. The Kansas City data analysis revealed similar findings, which the author discusses. The author also suggests that research findings reflect what has been reported elsewhere, and encourages future research to determine if the manner in which police implement and utilize ShotSpotter impacts the likelihood that program goals will be met.

Date Published: February 1, 2024