Officials credit ShotSpotter for why gunshots are not heard as often in one Houston neighborhood

Some residents in the Aldine area who say the sound of gunshots was becoming all too familiar say they now feel safer thanks to a pilot program that was launched called ShotSpotter. 

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It’s now one year into the 3-year pilot program in Aldine where technology that detects the sound of gunfire is being used to not only find but also deter anyone illegally firing guns.

In Aldine, some say the sound of gunshots was becoming as common as hearing kids playing outdoors. That's why Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says ShotSpotter technology installed in the area is helping change that. 

"Imagine living in a place that’s always riddled with gunfire and the fear and all that. When I asked our team what’s the area that we have the most gunfire or calls for service related to discharge of firearms, it was always the Aldine community," Sheriff Gonzalez explains. "It’s just really a game-changer when it comes to responding a lot quicker and potentially making an arrest." 

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Gonzalez says without ShotSpotter when someone reports "shots fired," pinpointing where the gunshots are coming from can be like locating a needle in a haystack, but this technology detects the sound and notifies deputies, giving them almost the exact location. 

"With these sensors, it puts us within 82 feet," says HCSO Sgt. D. Ritchie. "[The notification] will show them on the map where it is, and they can play that sound back, and they can zoom in on the map." 

"You’re able to hear the sound of the firearm being discharged," HCSO Deputy Jessica Suarez adds. "So a lot of times if you listen to it, you can hear like dogs barking. You can hear tires squealing. I do know of a co-worker he was dispatched to a shot spotter, and he actually found someone that had been shot, and he was able to save their life." 

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Richard Cantu, who lives in the area is the Executive Director of the East Aldine District. He noted how tackling gun violence became person for him after losing his daughter,18-year-old Aleksis Cantu, who was shot and killed at a Halloween party when a fight broke out that she didn’t have anything to do with.

"Some of our deputies that are on contract with the East Aldine District arrested two guys who’d been discharging an automatic weapon along Greens Bayou," he said. "I recently lost my daughter to gun violence. Halloween of 2021." 

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During this first year of ShotSpotter in Aldine 44 people have been arrested, and 40 guns have been seized. 

"Taking guns off the streets, it’s making our community safer," Cantu says.

The $780,000 pilot program is being put on and paid for by Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s Office. 

"If you’re illegally firing a weapon we will find you, and we will bring you to the Harris County Crossbar Hotel (Jail)," adds Garcia. 

Sheriff Gonzalez says, depending on funding, they are potentially looking to use ShotSpotter in other areas.