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Using Gunshot Detection Technology in High-Crime Areas

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 1998
4 pages
Publication Series
Field trials of two gunshot detection systems were undertaken at two sites between October and December 1996 to assess the accuracy of the systems and the impact of the systems on police response times and workloads.
The two systems were Triton Technology's ShotSpotter System and Alliant Techsystems' SECURES System. Researchers determined ShotSpotter accurately detected 80 percent of shots fired in the field test; 72 percent of the shots were also triangulated, with a 25-foot margin of error in pinpointing the exact location of the shots. The type of weapon fired affected the system's ability to detect the shots. For the most part, there were few differences between police response times to technology-generated reports of gunfire and police response to citizen-generated reports before the test period. However, the mean police response time to citizen-generated reports of gunfire during the test period was about 30 percent less than the mean police response time to technology-generated reports. Gunshot detection systems resulted in a 287-percent increase in the number of police dispatches to random gunfire problems, although the technology may have generated some false alerts and some jurisdictions may have had a high rate of unreported gunfire. Researchers concluded that gunshot detection systems can serve as a rapid response tool, as a problem-solving tool, and as a crime prevention tool.

Date Published: June 1, 1998