Houston mayor calls gunshot detection tech a ‘gimmick,’ plans to end ShotSpotter contract

Houston Mayor John Whitmire called SpotShotter's technology a "gimmick" and a "feel-good program" that law enforcement doesn't support amid discussions to end the city's contract.
Houston Mayor John Whitmire
Houston Mayor John Whitmire speaks at the Houston Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce Annual Luncheon & Business Expo at Hilton Americas-Houston on April 12, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Bob Levey / Getty Images for Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce)

Houston plans to end its partnership with ShotSpotter, claiming the company’s gunshot detection technology fails to produce accurate crime alerts and wastes public safety resources.

The controversial program came up during a budget workshop with the Houston Police Department on Tuesday about the upcoming fiscal year, where Mayor John Whitmire called the technology a “gimmick, feel-good program,” unsupported by many law enforcement agencies.

“I think it’s a gimmick. A feel-good program,” Whitmire said during the meeting. “Most law enforcement officers do not support ShotSpotter. I don’t support it.”

According to data analyzed by a local news station, less than 5% of nearly 4,400 ShotSpotter alerts between December 2020 and September 2022 resulted in arrest.


ShotSpotter provides services to 150 cities across the country and claims its AI-powered technology to has a 97% accuracy rate, which includes a 0.5% false positive rate, for real-time gunshot detections over the last three years.

Houston’s $3.5 million five-year contract with SoundThinking, the company behind the technology, is set to expire in 2027.

“SoundThinking has been the subject of false and misleading statements related to our leading gunshot detection technology. We embrace criticism and respect differences of opinion,” reads a page dedicated to addressing criticism on ShotSpotter’s website. “Unfortunately, these untrue statements have been unfairly twisted to impersonate facts in the public dialogue about how we help communities improve public safety.”

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

Latest Podcasts