Police Emails Detail Plans for ShotSpotter Technology in San Diego

Emails from the San Diego Police Department show timeline of implementing program, including installation at San Diego Unified Schools.

NBC 7 Investigates is learning more about a new system purchased by the San Diego Police Department to help them respond to shootings faster. 

The system is called ShotSpotter and according to the company, it can detect the sound of gunfire with pinpoint accuracy. 

To read more about how the system works, click here

Since June, NBC 7 Investigates has been asking the City of San Diego if it would purchase the ShotSpotter technology. At the time, San Diego Police said there were no plans to do so. 

But, last month, NBC 7 Investigates learned the city was purchasing and installing the system. 

Using the California Public Records Act, NBC 7 Investigates filed a public information request for emails and documents from the San Diego Police Department that mention “ShotSpotter." 

To read the emails and see the documents we received, click here.

In the emails, NBC 7 Investigates learned a Deputy City Attorney forwarded ShotSpotter agreements to San Diego Police on September 14. 

Two weeks later, on September 28, the equipment arrived, according to the emails. 

The emails show San Diego Police reached out to other police departments across the country, including Milwaukee and Sacramento, asking to review their policies in order to help develop its own.

In one email, a San Diego Police employee states the department had not received any complaints from the community. 

In another email, a resident from the O’Farrell community voiced concerns about what the police department will do with the data it recovers from the ShotSpotter system. 

Specifically, the resident wanted to know if the department could sell the shooting data to insurance companies for the purpose of raising rates in communities where shots have been detected. 

A representative from the San Diego Police Department responded by email to the resident, saying all data recovered from the ShotSpotter system is considered evidence and would not be shared. 

The emails also detail an agreement was made with the San Diego Unified School District to install the technology on school buildings. 

According to an email sent by San Diego Police staff, the installation with SDUSD “hit a snag” after a school employee halted the installation of the ShotSpotter sensors until the district’s Superintendent gave clearance to do so. 

In the email, SDPD explains getting clearance could take up to two months. 

In a fact sheet provided by ShotSpotter to the San Diego Police Department, the company states the system’s cost ranges from $65,000 to $95,000 per square mile. 

As part of the agreement drawn up between the San Diego Police Department and ShotSpotter, ShotSpotter states the price tag for the first year of service will be $245,300 and that the price will drop to $235,300 annually after the first year. 

According to the San Diego Police Department, the City Attorney’s office determined the funds to pay for the ShotSpotter system will come from the asset forfeiture program. 

NBC 7 Investigates has reached out to the San Diego Police Department, San Diego Unified School District, the City Attorney’s office and District Attorney’s office for more information on the next steps for the ShotSpotter program. 

Specifically, NBC 7 Investigates is still trying to verify what schools may be involved and why the program is being implemented at schools.

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