HomeTop StoriesMayor Brandon Johnson's allies are blocking the effort to keep ShotSpotter in...

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s allies are blocking the effort to keep ShotSpotter in place in Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — An offer to keeping the controversial ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology alive in ChicagoDespite Mayor Brandon Johnson’s plan to end contact this fall, he hit a temporary roadblock on Wednesday.

Councilors were scheduled to vote Wednesday on a measure that would require a full City Council vote before removing ShotSpotter sensors from all but two of the mayor’s allies: Alds. Daniel La Spata (1st) and Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez (33rd) – have taken action to postpone the vote.

It is unclear how soon a vote will take place now, although the council will meet again on Friday to discuss two other matters that were postponed on Wednesday.

During the 2023 campaign for mayor, Johnson pledged to end the use of ShotSpotter in Chicago, saying there was clear evidence the system is unreliable.

In 2021, a report from the Chicago Inspector General’s office found that ShotSpotter alerts rarely lead to evidence of a gun crime. The inspector general’s findings are consistent with a recent study from Northwestern University’s MacArthur Justice Center, which also found that nine times out of 10, sounds detected by ShotSpotter sensors did not lead to any evidence of an actual crime .

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Ald. Joe Moore (17th) has led the effort to require a full City Council vote before removing ShotSpotter from a neighborhood.

If the measure is approved by the full City Council, open questions would remain about whether Johnson would be forced to negotiate a new contract with SoundThinking, the company behind the ShotSpotter technology, and how it would be deployed on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis. .

Moore’s proposal does not specify how continued use of ShotSpotter beyond the current contract would be funded or overseen. ShotSpotter gunshot sensors are currently deployed at the district level across the Chicago Police Department, with each district covering portions of multiple departments.

Johnson’s office has taken pains to demand a step-by-step approach to removing ShotSpotter.

“Public safety is a citywide issue that is the responsibility of the police department, under the supervision of the Office of the Mayor, and cannot be effectively managed on a neighborhood-by-borough basis in a manner that undermines that authority,” Johnson’s office said. a statement earlier this month.

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Several councilors have criticized the mayor for unilaterally deciding to terminate the city’s ShotSpotter contract in November, arguing that Johnson should have cooperated with the City Council. Several councilors also noted that Johnson decided to get rid of ShotSpotter even though Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling is an outspoken proponent of the technology.

Supporters of ShotSpotter have said it saves lives by alerting police to gunshots, since many shootings do not result in 911 calls.

The police were alerted on Saturday a mass shooting in the Back of the Yards neighborhood courtesy of ShotSpotter. Nine-year-old Ariana Molina was killed and ten other people were injured.

Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th), whose department includes the scene of the mass shooting, said ShotSpotter supporters are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the technology in place, arguing that it saves lives by sending police and paramedics to to have shooting scenes happen when no one calls. 911 about gunfire.

“I understand the mayor’s position. However, we are uncertain and unclear what the alternative is to replace ShotSpotter, and at this time my community is not in a position to be a guinea pig,” Coleman said. “Can the technology improve now? Absolutely. Can our officers use ShotSpotter to the best of their ability to take advantage of what the technology has done since 2015? Absolutely, but hey, now ShotSpotter has been a boon and a saver in the 16th Precinct.”

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Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) said earlier this month that while there is clear value in faster police response times when shots are fired, the city should also establish specific metrics for what it wants from ShotSpotter or some other gunshot detection technology so they can accurately can measure the success of any system.

“We have never made it clear what we want to achieve,” Vasquez said.

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