ShotSpotter "wastes millions of taxpayer dollars" and doesn't even work, say critics

Originally published at: ShotSpotter "wastes millions of taxpayer dollars" and doesn't even work, say critics | Boing Boing


It’s fun when corporate/cop shills get called out.


This is such a uniquely American solution to a problem. People are getting shot, so America says, “Let’s give billions to some sketchy tech companies to create elaborate surveillance to detect gunfire with complex machine learning systems so that police can rush over there and have gunfights or whatever.”

Everyone else says, “Hey people are getting shot so let’s have gun control.”


America isn’t saying this, some cops and municipal officials are saying this. Why? My guess is kickbacks. Just like other sketchy services that have been pushed by law enforcement, the goals of the game are always the same - profit and power.

ETA: This has a better breakdown of the whole sales (grifting) process:


Just an issue the TV show Pretty Hard Cases pointed out, fireworks can be mistaken for gunshots?


Regularly mistaken for gunfire. Not everyone knows the difference, and some people are so startled by sudden, loud noises that the assume every popping noise they hear is gunshots. I hear both on a semi-regular basis. One I worry about, the other I don’t. :woman_shrugging:


And the grift goes on… Our police forces are budgeting like they’re eight year olds spending grandma’s gift card so why not cater new expensive toys to the market?


I hear both too, but I am still surprised how often someone will set off a very loud firework just randomly after 11:30 at night.


I’m not. There’s a park across the street. It pisses me off, but it’s the price I pay for having fewer neighbors in a city.


It’s worse than kickbacks. The reason that cops like this system is that ShotSpotter will fabricate data on their behalf. The failure rate for the system suggest that this is its primary utility.


Backfiring vehicles, too, altho less common than they once were.


You beat me to it; the show brings up the senseless expense for a product that doesn’t even work.


Whether it works or not is besides the point - it’s about whether the company is willing to fabricate evidence on demand for the cops, which they will! So that’s a “useful” tool for law enforcement… The cops came down heavy (without justification) on someone/some neighborhood? Well, it was justified, the system heard a “gunshot” there! (It’s disturbing how many forensic/law enforcement tools work similarly to provide support for whatever the cops want it to say.)

Apparently just about any sort of loud bang can get mistaken for gunshots by the system.

Yeah, to recognize gunfire, you need to have actually spent some time around guns being fired. Television and movies use non-gunfire FX (or just heavily alter actual gunshots) to sub for gunfire, so it’s actively misleading.


On the nose. Coming in at a close second is the omnipresent lack of sophistication in PDs. A new policing toy available? Gotta have it! It’s techy and new!


When I was living in South East San Diego, hugely diverse population. We ripped them out as soon as we saw them go in, the how is easy, just shoot at them, pop goes the weasel.

I live with the regrettable behavior, easily.


Kinda seems to give them an easy rationalization to replace and expand, though.

That’s not what is happening, these devises fail on there lonesome, we just helped them over the finished line. Don’t place that much confidence in technology, humans will find a work-around, there’s lots of documentation on that too.



T. Greg Doucette’s a 1st class follow. He’s also responsible for:

  • The Threadnought: a years-long play-by-play of notorious voice actor Vic Mignona’s lolsuit lashing out at people for identifying him as a serial predator
  • Year 7 (?) of a massive elementary school food fundraiser to support families in his area. Participants generally take bets on how much they can inconvenience him by outraising his capacity to find logistics support.
  • fsckEmAll: a podcast detailing police violence and overreach. Taken with the combo experience of computer science background and defense lawyer experience.
  • A massive, numbered thread of recorded police violence against civilians, particularly surrounding the BLM protests.

Also great in that he’s a white lawyer who got his law degree from an HBCU, so people tend to be a bit aghast when he’s willing to directly call out the dogwhistling for what it is.


Probably because Samaritan isn’t helping it out.

I didn’t say you all voted for it. But it happened there. Culture and structure of countries dictate what happens in them.