According to a Denver Fox31 KDVR report, Denver PD’s gun detection technology (GDT) led to nearly 100 arrests and over 100 illegal firearm confiscations in 2020.
Denver police are getting a significant return on their investment from the gun detection technology ShotSpotter, which detects, locates and alerts on gunshots within a 25-meter radius. The technology has led to a significant uptick in arrests from gun-related crimes.
Denver city police invested in ShotSpotter GDT in 2015 for $815,000 as per the KDVR report. Via the company’s website, the ShotSpotter technology suite consists of acoustic sensors that detect sounds or “pulses” produced by gunshots, filtering out any background noise or interference. These sensors then send a data package of that sound to cloud servers that run the information through an algorithm to determine a precise location.
Joe Montoya, the Division Chief of Investigations for the Denver Police told KDVR, “When a detection gunshot goes off, it quickly triangulates to give you a precise location of that gunshot, and it will follow up with the number of gunshots.”
According to a 2019 report in Colorado Politics, ShotSpotter sensors cover roughly 12% of the city. Since 2015, sensors have been distributed throughout the city in strategic geographic locations that are at a high risk for gun crime.
In addition, the Fox31 News team found that arrests due to the help of sensors is trending upwards at 296% since they began using this technology, contributing to an increase in crime statistics – specifically a significant increase in firearm crime.
According to a report by the nonprofit Washington-DC based think tank the Urban Institute, crimes involving a firearm have increased since the implementation of the technology due to more effective detection and response times from officers.
Urban Institute research associate Daniel Lawrence told KDVR, “It gets police to the scene,” explaining how the technology helped Denver officers respond 66% faster to calls compared to typical 911 calls following a shooting. Lawrence added that the GDT doubled the amount of shooting notifications the officers received, thus increasing their workload with more investigations.
However, police have to be careful. The KDVR report noted that the technology does make errors occasionally, sometimes mistaking other sounds for gun fire.
The Urban Institute stressed that communication with the public is important in encouraging residents to continue to make 911 service calls in case GDT sensors are not in the area, and because GDT is not immune to errors.