The system costs the city $264,000 a year, money that could be used to operate a police helicopter, police spokesman Frank Bonifacio tells the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1gwqL4j).
ShotSpotter alerts—sent after a network of microphones picks up a shot and quickly maps the location—are often followed quickly by phone calls from the community, Bonifacio said.
"A lot of times (ShotSpotter) is followed with phone calls from our community, so we're not missing out on a whole lot," Bonifacio told the newspaper.
Still, data shows that ShotSpotter detects more gunfire than is reported by residents. In February, 258 gunfire reports were picked up on ShotSpotter, while only 197 were phoned in by residents.
East Oakland officials and residents say the system makes them feel safer.
Noel Gallo, who heads the City Council's Public Safety Committee, said every resident he has spoken to supports ShotSpotter.
But police say a helicopter can respond to trouble more quickly, and use infrared technology to apprehend suspects more easily.
Bonifacio said the department wants to encourage more people to call 911 when they hear gunshots.
"More of the helpful stuff is the community that sees, hears and reports their observations," he said. "It is better than a machine telling us coordinates of what happened."
Some residents say even with ShotSpotter and calls, not enough is being done to combat gun violence.
"I hear a shot and I hear sirens maybe 20, 30 minutes later, and then they're going somewhere else," Georgia Phillips, a 24-year-old East Oakland resident, said. "The police are pretty bad, and I don't trust them with my life."
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com