Activists have called on Chicago officials to terminate the ShotSpotter contract

Chicago Democratic Socialists of the United States Adwa Agipong will speak at a rally on Thursday, August 19, 2021 (WTTW News)

Activists and youth leaders are calling on Chicago authorities to contract the city with gun detection company ShotSpotter, a technology that is unreliable and often sends police “false warnings” to communities.

Members of GoodKids MadCity, Black Youth Project 100 and other organizations gathered Thursday afternoon at the Chicago Police Department’s 7th District headquarters to protest the city’s decision to renew its contract with ShotSpotter for another two years.

Adwaa Agyepong, a member of the Chicago Democrats in the United States, said: “The CPD and Shotspot have identified the location of the shooting and sent some of them to the police station.” “You are logged in with ShotSpotter and other technology, we are safe. This is a blatant lie. ”

ShotSpotter technology relies on microphones and sensors to detect shots and alert law enforcement to respond quickly.

Chicago In 2018, he signed a $ 3 million contract with ShotSpotter. Prior to the deal, WBBM-TV reported that the city had already agreed on a new two-year extension in 2023.

But speakers said Thursday that ShotSpotter has also led to unnecessary arrests in color communities, and recent studies have questioned the reliability of ShotSpotter technology.

In May, Northwest University’s MacArthur Justice Center published a report stating that 86% of ShotSpotter alerts did not result in a police report of any crime or incident, leading to calls for a reduction in technological violence.

According to that study, ShotSpotter created more than 40,000 dead police deployments from July 1, 2019 to April 14, 2021.

On Thursday, August 19, 2021, they protested against the use of the city's ShotSpotter technology.  (WTTW News)On Thursday, August 19, 2021, they protested against the use of the city’s ShotSpotter technology. (WTTW News)

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that it had discovered “serious deficiencies” in the technology, which could have shot ShotSpotter directly under the microphones, or incorrectly classified fireworks or cars as shots. APS ShotSpotter staff also said, “After listening to the audio recordings, you can change the audio source selected by the sensors, introducing human discrimination into a shot-search algorithm.”

In response, ShotSpotter CEO Ralph Clark told AP. , “The point is to have eyes and ears on a gun, so anything that is produced in the end. … Human eyes and ears, okay? ”

That report highlights the case of Michael Williams, a Chicago man who spent nearly a year in Cook County Jail on ShotSpotter evidence. Last month, a judge dismissed the case on the grounds that prosecutors did not have enough evidence.

In a statement to WTTW News, a ShotSpotter spokesman criticized the MacArthur Justice Center’s report as “misinterpreted” and said that ShotSpotter had found “97% accuracy” over all customers over the past two years. ”

“ShotSpotter technology in Chicago has been a comprehensive effort over the past few years to reduce gun violence,” the spokesman said.

Activists have criticized ShotSpotter for responding to crime rather than defending it.

“There are about 61 ShotSpotter-initiated police deployments every day,” Agipong said. “This means that everyone comes to black and brown communities 61 times a day, thinking that everyone is armed and dangerous.

Contact Matt Masterson @ByMattMasterson | [email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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