Officials determining if ShotSpotter technology is worth keeping

Program in pilot stage

SAN ANTONIO – The ShotSpotter Program, a new technology in San Antonio that alerts police to gunshots, is still in the pilot stage and the city is trying to find out if it’s working.

In April, ShotSpotter was added to crime-ridden areas in the eastern and western parts of the city. Halfway through the yearlong trial, the numbers are out.

The ShotSpotter reported 105 shots fired on the West Side and 54 on the East Side.

“We’re not surprised by that at all,” said Shirley Gonzales, District 5 councilwoman.

Gonzales represents the part of the West Side she said has always seen too much violence.

“We have been concerned about the high crimes in our neighborhood for a very long time,” Gonzales said.  

Gonzales said what concerns her is that the ShotSpotter has only led to two arrests. Four others were made on cases when calls came from both the ShotSpotter and neighbors calling 911.

“If there's suspicious activity, just call 911 and not wait for somebody else to do it, and certainly not wait for a technology like ShotSpotter that so far has shown not to have led to enough arrests,” Gonzales said.

San Antonio police Chief William McManus and Gonzales agree that the public shouldn’t rely only on ShotSpotter. McManus reported that the technology has led to the recovery of six firearms and 63 pieces of evidence.

“We're going to wait until the pilot has run its course before we make any evaluation on how effective it is. I think effective for us is: Is it helping us make arrests? Is it helping us close cases?” McManus said.

Officials will have to decide if the program is worth its $270,000 price tag. 

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