The latest weapon in crime fighting technology is either a welcome innovation or an overly-intrusive threat to privacy, depending on who you talk to. It's called ShotSpotter, and it involves a surveillance system set up on light poles and buildings that detects gun shots, then relays the info and the location to police. The developers of the technology say it can provide officers with the precise location, the amount of shots fired and even the type of weapon used. The idea is to allow police to respond faster and more efficiently to violent incidents or crimes.
Several major cities across the country are already using the ShotSpotter technology, including San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, New York City, St. Louis and San Antonio. As of now, there are no plans to adopt the system in Houston, due mainly to questions about cost and effectiveness. "We are in very tough budget times right now, and anything that calls for additional resources that is not completely 100 percent proven is not something I'd be supportive of," says Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers Union. He has questions about whether the technology is really necessary. "Most of the time when we have shots fired, we have eye witnesses who call those in and tell us where the shots are coming from," says Hunt. "To simply have a direction, we could have our officers running all over part of Houston and kind of wasting manpower."
While police question ShotSpotter's usefulness, many Second Amendment advocates are dubious about the technology because of privacy reasons. "It gives the government the ability to butt in to your life when they have no business doing so," says David Amad with Open Carry Texas. He warns that, while this technology has noble goals of catching criminals and preventing violent incidents, the collection of this data ultimately will lead to abuses. "Eventually, that information will--not might--but will be used against the people...it's as simple as that."