Former CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks out on decision not to renew Chicago ShotSpotter technology

Sarah Schulte Image
Friday, February 16, 2024
Former Supt. Johnson speaks out on decision not to renew ShotSpotter
Former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson helped bring SoundThinking's ShotSpotter technology to the city. Now he's speaking out.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The former Chicago police superintendent who brought ShotSpotter to the city in 2017 is speaking out about Mayor Brandon Johnson's decision not to renew a contract for the CPD technology.

Eddie Johnson highly recommended the gunshot detection system to then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"I know that it is effective. When we rolled it out in Englewood and the 11th District on the West Side, within three months, gun violence decreased in Englewood by 46-47%," Johnson said.

Despite support from Johnson and current Superintendent Larry Snelling, Mayor Johnson is getting rid of ShotSpotter.

The contract with the company that owns the technology, SoundThinking, ends Friday.

The mayor wants to extend it for six months to provide police with time to function without it.

"Moving away and transitioning out is what I've made my commitment towards, and that commitment is still in place," Mayor Johnson said.

While the mayor is committed to extending the contract, SoundThinking is apparently not.

The mayor refused to answer questions about the status of negotiations with the company, but it's likely SpotShotter ends Friday.

Former Superintendent Johnson said police and violent neighborhoods are losing an effective tool that the mayor said will not be replaced

"I think there's like 80% of shots fired calls, and these challenging neighborhoods where people don't dial 911, ShotSpotter took the place of that," he said.

While Chicago is losing it, neighboring Elmwood Park is likely to invest in the technology, possibly pooling resources with other suburbs.

Because it's on the border of the city, Elmwood Park used CPD's ShotSpotter in exchange for helping with their calls.

SEE MORE: Chicago ShotSpotter use could end early after company rejects brief extension, aldermen say

"We are tied in with their technology, and it worked out great," Elmwood Park Mayor Skip Saviano said.

"By the time the officers get there, the offenders may be gone, but there have been victims left. And somebody's life, every second counts," Elmwood Park Chief Andrew Hock said.

Ending ShotSpotter was one of Mayor Johnson's campaign promises.

He said he would rather use the money to invest in prevention rather than tools that help officers just respond to crime.

SoundThinking released a statement Thursday night that said:

"ShotSpotter has been deployed in the City of Chicago for 7 years and has been aware of the pending contract expiration on February 16, 2024.

"Throughout much of 2023, SoundThinking attempted to engage the City of Chicago regarding an extension of the ShotSpotter service. As recently as December, 2023, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was presented to the city for a 12-month extension.

"This same MOU was recently presented to the city. This resulted in preliminary discussions regarding a concept proposed by the city of an 8-9 month extension, enabling the city to complete a formalized RFP and evaluation for acoustic gunshot detection.

"Contrary to those discussions and without consultation with SoundThinking, on February 12, 2024, Mayor Johnson announced a decommission plan, involving an extension of ShotSpotter through September 22,2024, one month after the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

"We believe the shared goal of an extension period must provide the best possible data and analysis to the residents of the City of Chicago through greater transparency and reporting standards. The way this is secured is through a minimum 12-month extension and modifications to the city's current data and reporting protocols.

"SoundThinking stands ready to continue its partnership with the City of Chicago to help address the tragic plague of gun violence."

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