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Political Gumbo: ShotSpotter Works

Published on Friday, June 23, 2023 | 5:24 am

The Public Safety Committee heard a review of the City’s ShotSpotter program on Wednesday.

Sensors triangulate gunshots and the data is reported back to the police.

In October 2021, the City Council approved a $640,000, three-year contract for the software. 

Critics claim it does not work and does not address issues that lead to crime. The next complaint is low arrest numbers. 


First and foremost, the City has said all along ShotSpotter is merely a cog in the wheel to keep the community safe. 

It’s not designed to stamp out poverty and illiteracy and other issues that lead to crime and truth to tell I’m not sure anybody ever believed it was designed to address those issues. 

Second, if the point here is technology that leads to arrests then there should be no opposition to automatic license plate readers, which do lead to arrests.

Yeah, exactly.

No I am not saying we need more ALPRs, but the point here is made. 

Councilmember Steve Madison put it best: deterrence and the safety of our community due to increased response times are the metrics to consider.

In other words, if I’m shot — life threatening injuries or not — I want first responders to get there quickly and get me to Huntington Hospital so they can get the bullet out of my behind.

Quick responses save lives. 

The City’s ShotSpotter system alerted police to two incidents on Saturday alone.

At 9:07 p.m. officers were alerted to Peoria Street by the gunshot detection technology where two people had been shot and injured, and about a half hour later, an alert and multiple 911 calls led police to Painter Street at Marengo Avenue where police found a man who was shot several times while driving with his 2-year-old son in the backseat.

The young boy was uninjured and returned to family.

So far this year ShotSpotter triangulated 80 shootings. In 42 of those incidents no one dialed 911 to report gunshots. 

And that’s one of the many reasons we have ShotSpotter.

I get it, people want police oversight.

Yes, 640k is a lot of clams.

But sometimes in the efforts to hold police accountable, the pendulum swings too far with some.

The result is opposition to any police item that comes before committee, commission or City Council. 

If we are calling on our police officers to be level headed, fair and reasonable then accountability and oversight must follow suit.

Technology is not going away.

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