* Tom Schuba at the Sun-Times…
An analysis of the city’s gunshot detection system released Monday found that nearly 86% of police deployments to alerts of gunfire prompted no formal reports of any crime.
The research, conducted by the MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern University School of Law, shows there were more that 40,000 “dead-end deployments” to gunshot alerts recorded between July 2019 and mid-April — an average of 61 each day.
Just 10% of the alerts over that period sent officers on calls that likely involved guns, the researchers found after analyzing records kept by the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. […]
But activists continue to raise concerns about ShotSpotter’s ability to distinguish between gunfire and other loud noises like fireworks. In addition, alarms are being sounded over the technology’s potential to increase the number of highly charged law enforcement interactions in police districts with large minority populations.
“It sends police racing into communities searching, often in vain, for gunfire,” said Jessey Neves, a spokeswoman for the MacArthur Justice Center. “Any resident in the area will be a target of police suspicion or worse. These volatile deployments can go wrong in an instant.”
* From the MacArthur Justice Center…
ShotSpotter has never done a scientifically valid study to determine whether its system can reliably tell the difference between the sound of gunfire and other loud noises like firecrackers, cars backfiring, construction noises, helicopters, and other harmless sounds. […]
The City of Chicago is one of ShotSpotter’s two largest customers, accounting for 18% of its annual revenue in 2020.
* Police Chief Magazine…
Results show that [acoustic gunshot detector systems] simply seem to replace traditional calls for service and do so less efficiently and at a greater monetary cost to departments. Given the tepid results in guiding police to the scenes of crime and given the hidden costs of these systems illustrated here, AGDS might not be well-suited for the audience the technology is marketed toward. High-volume agencies will likely experience substantial increases in their call volumes with remarkably little to show for it, at a cost that might have taxpayers questioning the logic behind the expense. While this technology can be useful, especially from an analytical point of view, it is difficult to see how agencies benefit from expensive technology that increases financial strain on departments with its only discernable impact being fewer founded crime incidents.
* CBS 2…
Company officials say ShotSpotter improves police relationships with communities by enhancing investigations, more quickly transporting shooting victims to hospitals and responding to gunfire even if no one calls 911, which they say happens in most instances.
“Our technology fills the gap in Chicago and 110 other cities across the United States, helping deploy officers to crime in real-time, saving lives,” ShotSpotter said in a statement.
“I think it’s hard to justify spending $33 million on a tool that sends police hunting for nonexistent gunfire almost nine times out of 10.” [Jonathan Manes of the MacArthur Justice Center said.]
In a press conference Monday, Mayor Lightfoot said the technology plays an important part of the city’s overall crime detection system.
“I’m not confident those numbers are actually accurate, but here’s what I do know; ShotSpotter technology, when coupled with cameras that we have in the SDSC rooms, no question whatsoever is a lifesaver,” she said.
Chicago police uses ShotSpotter technology in 12 of its 22 districts. It led officer Eric Stillman to the area of 24th and South Sawyer before the deadly shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
In 2018, the City of Chicago entered a $33 million, three-year contract with ShotSpotter. Chicago’s contract with ShotSpotter expires August 19, 2021.
Lightfoot said residents shouldn’t get the idea that the technology is going away.