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Misinformation in the NYC Comptroller’s Report

Home / Misinformation in the NYC Comptroller’s Report

We are reviewing the Comptroller’s report, but, at a high level, we believe it is gravely misinformed in its assessment of data and the value of ShotSpotter as a critical public safety tool. In fact, some of the report’s assumptions show a lack of understanding of public safety operations in the field and are dangerous.

For example, assuming that the lack of confirmation of a shooting automatically means that some other loud event triggered a false alert is erroneous and a perilous assumption. ShotSpotter is a digital witness to criminal gunfire. Perpetrators don’t remain at incident scenes, and police know that they’ll frequently clean up shell casings. The NYPD is a sophisticated law enforcement agency, and they wouldn’t waste precious time and dollars on a system that rendered mostly false positives. The Comptroller’s report is wrong on this point.

Most importantly, the report uses the wrong metrics. It should focus on full awareness of gunfire as it occurs, rapid response, and, most importantly, lives saved. It’s a fact that ShotSpotter saves lives in the places hit hardest by gun violence.

ShotSpotter is both accurate and effective. It has been deployed in New York City since 2015, and over 170 cities rely on ShotSpotter technology to detect and alert law enforcement to instances of gunfire. Every day, wherever ShotSpotter is deployed, our technology proves its reliability in detecting gunshots that helps first responders interrupt crimes, catch criminals, and save lives.  This is especially important given that over 80% of gunshots go unreported to 9-1-1, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.  This means that a ShotSpotter alert is often the only reason that police are dispatched to the vast majority of gunfire scenes.

We are so confident in the reliability of ShotSpotter that our contracts include a 90% guarantee for detecting, locating, and publishing outdoor gunfire incidents, with financial penalties for the company for underperformance.  An independent review conducted by data analytics firm Edgeworth found that ShotSpotter’s accuracy rate exceeds 97% across all customers.  It is the reason that more and more cities across the country are turning to ShotSpotter to help fight the scourge of gun violence that is plaguing our communities nationwide.

Finally, we welcome the report’s recommendation for more transparency and data around how gunfire detection incidents are handled based on ShotSpotter alerts.

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