ShotSpotter supporters push to keep technology in Chicago after Democratic National Convention

Craig Wall Image
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
ShotSpotter supporters push to keep technology in Chicago after DNC
Chicago ShotSpotter supporters say they will call for a city council vote on an order to have CPD gather more data on alerts until the contract ends.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Supporters of ShotSpotter are making another push to keep the gunshot detection technology when the contract expires this fall.

It comes on the eve of an important city council vote.

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Those who back the technology believe if the police department collects the right data over the next several months, it could help make the case that ShotSpotter is worth keeping.

Shots rang out on the West Side late Saturday night, with ShotSpotter detecting a total of 24 rounds. When police arrived, they found six men wounded by gunfire, several critically injured.

On Tuesday, a group of city council members joined with former CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson, who oversaw the launch of ShotSpotter eight years ago, to advocate for keeping it.

SEE ALSO | Chicago City Council committee passes ordinance that could keep ShotSpotter in some wards

"Seventy percent of our gunshot calls in Chicago go unreported by the citizens dialing 911. If we take away ShotSpotter, which alerts our officers to pinpoint areas of gunshots, what's gonna take its place?" the former superintendent said.

Mayor Brandon Johnson plans to end the city's contract with ShotSpotter this fall, but seems to have left open a window in a recent interview with ABC7.

"I worked with the corporation to phase it out, so that there's a deeper opportunity to give them the chance to provide more substantive research of its benefit," the mayor said.

So, supporters said, on Wednesday, they will call for a city council vote on an order to have the police department gather more data on ShotSpotter alerts from now until the contract ends.

The information includes how many times police officers render aid, how many bullet casings and weapons are recovered, how many arrests are made and the average response time compared to 911 calls.

READ MORE | Chicago police supt. defends ShotSpotter, says communication with mayor 'could have been better'

"When it does save a life, and it does, and when it does result in arrest, and it does, that is the value of this system, and that is exactly why we need to keep it," said Ald. Brian Hopkins, who chairs the council's public safety committee.

Those supporting ShotSpotter called out the mayor for putting people at risk simply to keep a campaign promise and to protect people through the summer and the Democratic National Convention.

"What are we doing about the hundreds of thousands of in these communities that are plagued each and every day by gun violence? Aren't they worth protecting, to investing in, to standing up for?" said 19th Ward Ald. Matt O'Shea.

According to ShotSpotter, nearly 2,100 gunshots were detected across the city this past weekend.

ABC7's Craig Wall asked Eddie Johnson why the data they now want collected wasn't recorded from the very beginning. He said no one ever thought they would need it to justify the technology.

SEE ALSO | Chicago ShotSpotter technology contract to last through at least late September