Abolition Working Group

What are we fighting for? 

We’re working to pressure the Houston Police Department to stop using surveillance technology to police our communities. Surveillance allows police to invade residents’ privacy and control who belongs in public space. Through partnerships with companies like Shotspotter and Amazon’s Ring, HPD can use video and audio surveillance to police workers and communities of color. HPD keeps its operations secret. That’s why this effort is part of the Abolition Working Group’s mission to defund, disarm, and dismantle HPD overall. 

ACTIVE DEMAND: #StopShotspotter! Contact your City Council Rep by January 5

On January 5, Houston City Council will be voting to approve a $3.5 million 5-year contract to roll out ShotSpotter in Houston. Use the following talking points to call your council member before January 5 or send them an email using our template

Who Is My City Council Member (District)?

Don’t forget to contact the City Council’s At-Large members.

Talking Points 

  • Technology is not the answer to gun violence. Companies like ShotSpotter aren’t concerned with preventing gun violence. Their technology is not proven to reduce gun violence. We’re just here to serve their bottom line. They mentioned the potential contract with Houston as a “win” in their quarterly earnings call. 
  • ShotSpotter sends armed police into Black and Brown neighborhoods instead of providing alternative crisis response like medical attention. Why don’t we divert funds to improving medical response time to gun violence? 
  • If the City Council is willing to spend $700,000 a year, we should explore other uses for those funds that actually reduce gun violence.
  • 911 responders are underpaid at the City, with an average annual salary of $33,000. If people in neighborhoods are worried about emergency response times, let’s redirect funds to better crisis response and higher salaries for 911 responders. 
  • The ShotSpotter pilot has not demonstrated sufficient results to deserve a $3.5 million dollar investment:
    • Only 20% of published ShotSpotter alerts resulted in offense reports, meaning that 80% of responses to ShotSpotter alerts are a waste of officer time
    • Only 21% of fired cartridge cases out of total rounds detected were recovered by HPD, meaning shockingly little evidence of actual gunshots
    • Only 39 guns were recovered by HPD out of over 2,000 alerts 
    • A majority of charges resulting from arrests are misdemeanors, which further clog the county criminal legal system
    • ShotSpotter identified 16 gunshot wound victims and responded by sending police instead of sending medical emergency care
  • We do need solutions to gun violence but allocating $3.5million to ShotSpotter is a waste of public funds that will have no effect on reducing gun violence. 

We demand that City Council vote against the 5-year contract with ShotSpotter!

Join the fight for abolition

DSA’s Abolition Working Group meets on the third Thursday of every month. We are a member of the Houston Abolitionist Collective and actively support overall efforts to abolish policing, jails, prisons, and detention centers. Email abolition@houstondsa.org to get involved or attend our monthly meetings.

Get involved