Chicago mayor announces city’s termination of ShotSpotter contract

The city of Chicago will end its relationship with ShotSpotter after the summer ends, announced Mayor Brandon Johnson. 

On Tuesday morning, the mayor released a statement saying that the city would not renew its contract with SoundThinking, the company behind the gun detection technology, which was set to expire on Friday. He also said the city will fully end its use of it on Sept. 22. 

“During the interim period, law enforcement and other community safety stakeholders will assess tools and programs that effectively increase both safety and trust, and issue recommendations to that effect,” said Johnson.

The controversial ShotSpotter is a gun detection technology system that relies on acoustic sensors to detect, locate and notify law enforcement about gun incidents in communities. 

In August 2018, the city initially opted into a $ 33 million contract with SoundThinking to utilize ShotSpotter, which was renewed for two more years under former Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration. In all, the city spent $49 million on the technology. 

Mayor Johnson’s announcement follows his campaign promise to end the city’s use of ShotSpotter. 

The technology has come under scrutiny in the past. 

A 2021 report from the Chicago Inspector General’s office found that 9.1% of ShotSpotter alerts actually resulted in gun-related crimes. 

Moreover, the Northwestern School of Law’s MacArthur Justice Center also concluded that the technology is deployed in predominantly Black and Latinx communities and that its use directly led to a disproportionate number of stop-and-frisk incidents. 

SoundThinking CEO Ralph Clark defended ShotSpotter and called its critics “misguided” in an op-ed in The Chicago Defender on Jan. 15. 

“In the time that it has been deployed in Chicago, ShotSpotter has led police to locate hundreds of gunshot wound victims where there was no corresponding call to 911. Those are victims who would not have received aid but for ShotSpotter,” Clark stated.

He also addressed the criticism that the city’s use of ShotSpotter did not reduce crime.

“They point to studies that suggest ShotSpotter does not reduce crime. But ShotSpotter is only one tool, used alongside other tools—like the 911 system. Those very same studies show that ShotSpotter is faster than 911, more precise than 911 and leads police to more crime guns and evidence than 911.”

The city will continue to rely on the technology throughout the Summer, which is statistically the most violent time of year. It will also be in use when the Democratic National Convention rolls into town from August 19 through the 22. 

The technology is deployed in about 150 cities. Chicago is one of the largest municipalities to exit.

News of Chicago opting out of its contract with SoundThinking reverberated from 121 North Lasalle all the way to Wall Street in Manhattan on Tuesday.

According to MarketWatch, shares of the publicly traded SoundThinking dipped by 18% after Johnson’s Tuesday announcement and are down by about 50% over the past 12 months.

Ultimately, Mayor Johnson said the city would collaborate with stakeholders, including community members, to develop an alternative.

“Moving forward, the City of Chicago will deploy its resources on the most effective strategies and tactics proven to accelerate the current downward trend in violent crime. Doing this work, in consultation with community, violence prevention organizations and law enforcement, provides a pathway to a better, stronger, safer Chicago for all.”

About Post Author


From the Web

Skip to content