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Today: Jun 12, 2024
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Chicago bids farewell to controversial gunshot detection technology this year.

1 min read

TLDR:

  • Chicago will no longer use ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology due to concerns over accuracy, racial bias, and law enforcement misuse.
  • The city’s $49 million contract with SoundThinking, the company that operates ShotSpotter, expires in September.
  • Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office plans to work with law enforcement and community safety groups to find alternative tools and programs to increase safety and trust.
  • Some community public safety groups argue that ShotSpotter primarily sends police officers to predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods for unnecessary and hostile encounters.

Chicago will stop using the controversial gunshot detection technology known as ShotSpotter later this year. The technology, which uses an artificial intelligence algorithm and a network of microphones to identify gunshots, has faced criticism for its inaccuracy, racial bias, and potential misuse by law enforcement. An investigation conducted by the Associated Press found instances where individuals were wrongly incarcerated based on limited evidence generated by the ShotSpotter system. The city of Chicago’s $49 million contract with SoundThinking, the company that operates ShotSpotter, will expire in September.

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office has expressed an intent to work with law enforcement and community safety organizations to identify alternative tools and programs that can effectively increase safety and trust. During the interim period, while ShotSpotter is not in use, these groups will assess different options and issue recommendations. Johnson, a first-term mayor, campaigned on a promise to end the use of ShotSpotter, despite support for the technology from police leaders. The police argue that the deployment of ShotSpotter is determined by crime rates, not the race of residents. Critics claim that ShotSpotter disproportionately sends police officers to predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods, leading to unnecessary and hostile encounters.

In recent years, violent crime rates, including homicides and shootings, have fallen across the country. However, property crimes have seen a rise in some areas. In Chicago, the trend of declining violent crime has continued into 2024, with a 30% drop in homicides compared to the same period last year. Chicago’s decision to discontinue the use of ShotSpotter may have a significant impact on the city’s policing strategies and efforts to combat violent crime.

Sources:

The Independent