417 – ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection System

You are here:

I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to outline expectations for the use of the gunshot detection system (ShotSpotter).

II. Definitions

Gunshot Detection System (GDS) – A system that utilizes a combination of acoustic sensors and software to detect and accurately locate outdoor gunfire events. This system will send alerts to the Communications Division and Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs).

Gunshot Detection System Manager – An employee who is responsible for the overall coordination, training, auditing, and maintenance of the GDS. The GDS Manager shall be appointed by the Sheriff.

ShotSpotter – A brand name of a Gunshot Detection System.

ShotSpotter Activation – A CAD nature code for the GDS when the system has detected a gunfire event. This code has two sub categories:

1. ShotSpotter Activation/Shots in Progress – an alert from the GDS reported as a high confidence alert.

2. ShotSpotter Activation/Possible Shots – an alert from the GDS reported as low confidence alert.

III. Policy

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office utilizes ShotSpotter, a Gunshot Detection System. This policy establishes procedures for the receipt, dispatch, and investigation of gunfire incidents received by the ShotSpotter Gunfire Detection System.

IV. Procedure

A. General Procedures

1. A CAD code of 657-ShotSpotter has been created regarding the GDS System. An alert for a GDS will be a Priority 1 Call.

2. Dispatch

a. Acknowledge and review the incoming alert information.

b. Generate a call slip.

c. Broadcast “Shots Detected”, providing specific details of the incident.

d. Will locate the closest two units and have them respond Priority 1.

e. Provide additional calls from citizens regarding possible connection with the ShotSpotter Alert.

3. Deputies will not self-initiate themselves on an alert for “Shots Detected”.

4. Employees trained in the use of ShotSpotter, and assigned to an area equipped with a Gunshot Detection System, shall at the beginning of the shift, log into and remain logged into the system for the entirety of their shift.

5. Upon receipt of an alert from dispatch, the employee shall:

a. Click on “View Incident” to acknowledge the alarm.

b. Review the incident data prior to responding to the incident in order to ensure a safe, coordinated, and tactically sound response.

c. When responding to an alert that has not yet been dispatched, will not respond Priority 1 until dispatched by the dispatcher.

d. Absent extenuating circumstances, high confidence alerts (shooting in progress/shots fired) two units will respond to the alert.

e. Low confidence alerts (possible shots or fireworks), a single unit may respond.

f. Employees responding to a GDS activation shall not activate emergency equipment unless other information is obtained which would permit for the use of the emergency equipment as outlined in Department Policy 802 – Use of Emergency Equipment.

g. Upon arrival to the location, employees shall canvass the location and surrounding areas identified by the GDS for victims, evidence, or potential witnesses.

h. A GDS (ShotSpotter) call will be cleared two ways; Report or Unable to Locate.

B. Reporting Requirements

The report shall include the following:

i. The ShotSpotter ID number generated by the ShotSpotter Alert;

ii. Suspect / Witness Information; and

iii. Documentation of any evidence located or recovered.

C. Evidence Collection

Deputies investigating incidents of GDS who find cartridge casings at the scene of the incident and have no evidence of another crime, will seize the casings as evidence in accordance with Department Policies 603 – Disposition of Firearms and Firearms Related Evidence, 605 – Storage of Evidence and In-Custody Property, and Patrol Bureau Standard Operating Procedure 211 – Property and Evidence Control.

D. Responsibilities

The GDS Manager will continually review the performance of the GDS and will notify the Sheriff of system failure, will compile reports as needed regarding the system, be responsible for the interface with the vendor, and schedule or facilitate training for the GDS operations.


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

July 22, 2021

Was this policy helpful?
How can we improve this policy?
Previous 416 – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
Next 418 – Behavioral Health Division
Table of Contents