Detroit Cops Testing Gunshot Sensors Saw 400 Shootings in Just 4 Months

A pilot program could help authorities improve dismal 911 response times.


Detroit’s 911 response time is still six minutes behind the national average. Enter a pilot program using gunfire detection technology to alert authorities when guns go bang. It should be especially welcome for residents who find themselves waiting on the cops.

ShotSpotter, which has also carved out a good business in California high schools on guard for the next mass shooter, has been tested on a trial basis in northeast Detroit for roughly a year.

The trial program is not being charged to taxpayers, though if the city did lock in a contract it might be close to the $2.6 million ShotSpotter agreement the City Council rejected in 2011. A typical city bringing the system in — and roughly 80 cities now use the tech — will see roughly 15 to 20 devices wired with mics put within a square mile to triangulate a shot’s origin.

Though you have to wonder if a such a system couldn’t be used to draw the police away from, say, a bank, as step one in a massive heist plan, authorities have been singing its praises. Police say it’s detected 400 shootings from Jan. 1 to May 12 — monitoring only a one-mile radius — led to two arrests. The future of robot cops in Detroit might be a little less nightmarish than, say, this: