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13 Mass. municipalities and 1 university use ShotSpotter. Critics wonder: Is it worth it?

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In this 2008 file photo, engineer Stephan Noetzel alerts a police officer to gunshots using ShotSpotter in East Palo Alto, Calif. Police and public officials nationwide continue to debate use of the technology.

GBH, May 2024

Boston police on patrol earlier this month say they heard “several loud bangs,” confirmed by a gunfire locator service called ShotSpotter, leading them to arrests of a Roxbury man on firearm charges. In New Bedford, a local man was detained last year after the system alerted police to a shooting near a housing development. And in Worcester, police say information from the technology led them to arrest a 26-year-old in December for a series of gun and drug charges. Law enforcement tout the arrests as examples of the benefits of controversial technology that detects gunshots and alerts police about their location. Over a dozen communities in Massachusetts use the technology that many in law enforcement, and the company itself, insist saves lives.

The technology company said its customers in the state are Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, Everett, Revere, Pittsfield, Worcester, Lawrence, Brockton, New Bedford, Holyoke, Springfield and Northeastern University. GBH News reached out to all departments and the school for comment on their usage. Only Cambridge and Springfield replied.

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