Study: ShotSpotter technology led to over 40k dead-end CPD deployments in 21 months

Chicago News

CHICAGO — A new study by Northwestern University said that Chicago police’s use of ShotSpotter technology generates no evidence of gunfire or a gun-related crime in the vast majority of deployments.

The study, done by MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, reviewed ShotSpotter deployments for roughly 21 months, from July 1, 2019 through April 14, 2021, using data obtained from the City of Chicago.

According to their analysis, 89% turned up no gun-related crime and 86% led to no report of any crime at all. In less than two years, there were more than 40,000 dead-end ShotSpotter deployments, the study claims.

“Our findings are shocking,” said MacArttur Justice Center attorney Jonathan Manes. “The ShotSpotter system in Chicago prompts thousands of deployments by police hunting for gunfire in vain. This system puts police on high alert and sends them racing into communities; but almost nine times out of ten, the police don’t turn up evidence of gun crime or any crime at all. It creates a powder keg situation for residents who just happen to be in the vicinity of a false alert.

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.

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