Tell ShotSpotter: Stop selling surveillance

An open letter to Ralph Clark, Alan Stewart, and the executives and employees of ShotSpotter, Inc.

We represent a broad coalition of local and national organizations and communities. We call upon you to stop selling surveillance and start listening to communities calling for real solutions to gun violence.

ShotSpotter technology regularly sends police, falsely expecting to find gunshots, into the Black, brown, and poor communities where your microphones are embedded.[1] Instead of preventing gun violence, ShotSpotter tech profits from it. The expansion of ShotSpotter's gunshot detection business depends on continued violence.[2] 

ShotSpotter makes everyone in our communities less safe by increasing the number of heightened and harmful interactions with police. Majority Black, brown, and poor communities are already impacted by racist violence by police, and ShotSpotter technology helps further it. 

Michael Williams,[3] Silvon Simmons,[4] Danny Ortiz,[5] and countless others have had their lives devastated by ShotSpotter technology in the hands of police. A ShotSpotter alert initiated the deployment of the Chicago Police officer who killed Adam Toledo in 2021.[6] 

Independent research has found that police deployments in response to ShotSpotter alerts fail to result in any evidence of a gun crime about 90% of the time.[7] But we know that ShotSpotter has never released any detailed data or peer-reviewed analyses of its technology’s benefits.[8] 

ShotSpotter alerts have fueled racist and unconstitutional stop and frisk by police in major cities like Chicago, where researchers found police responding to ShotSpotter alerts used stop and frisk[9] thousands of times and that some officers justify stop and frisk in Black and brown neighborhoods by citing a supposed history of ShotSpotter alerts in the area. In Milwaukee, a police unit focused on investigating ShotSpotter alerts, draws guns on Black and brown residents more often than others.[10] 

ShotSpotter profits off the fear of gun violence to sell technology that has not been properly validated [11] and secretly records us in our communities. The millions of dollars ShotSpotter extracts should go to communities that have repeatedly asked for help in reducing violence by extending support to the basic needs of community members. 

In our work, when we ask our communities what is needed to end gun violence, they say youth programs, jobs, housing the homeless, mental healthcare, and COVID relief from the pandemic. Not ShotSpotter.

People are not asking for more surveillance in the form of hidden ShotSpotter microphones or more racist policing. ShotSpotter does not prevent guns from going off — it is only activated in response to suspected violence, and even then fails to lead to any evidence of a gun incident more than 90% of the time.[12] 

None of this has stopped ShotSpotter from extracting hundreds of millions from more than 130 cities across the country and world, despite independent research that its product has made no impact on gun violence.[13] It’s the same story across the country, from San Diego, to Durham, to NYC, to Louisville, to Houston, to Chicago, and beyond. 

Surveillance is not safety. We want real solutions to gun violence — not more theft of public money that brings more racist policing to our neighborhoods. 



Action Center on Race and the Economy, (ACRE)
AfroSoc (Chicago)
Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (Chicago)
Carceral Tech Resistance Network
Center for Critical Internet Inquiry
Center for Victims of Torture (Minneapolis)
Chicago #StopShotSpotter Coalition
Defund LMPD Spying
Detroit Justice Center
Digital Fourth (Massachusetts)
Durham Beyond Policing
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Frontiers Georgia
Eye on Surveillance
Fight for the Future
Freedom to Thrive
Houston Abolitionist Collective
Lucy Parsons Labs
Media Justice
MPower Change
Muslims for Just Futures 
Muslim Justice League 
Oakland Privacy
PDX Privacy
Restore The Fourth
Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.)
Tech Workers Coalition San Diego
United Working Families Party (Illinois)
We the People Michigan






















Tell ShotSpotter: Stop selling surveillance

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