Deadline Detroit | Detroit Cops Want To Expand ShotSpotter System Citywide


(Graphic: Detroit Police Department)

The Detroit police chief wants to use $7 million in federal Covid relief funds to expand the use of Shot Spotter technology in “high crime areas”. Detroit Bridge reports:

ShotSpotter, a technology that uses a microphone and sound sensors to locate gunshots and provide real-time data to police on where and when a gun was fired, has been trialed at two of the most popular police stations. most violent in the city last spring.

Detroit Police Chief James White said during a budget presentation to City Council that the police department has seen a “marked decrease” in violent crime in areas where ShotSpotter has been deployed and “all the world will have some coverage” in the next phase.

“There will be a strategic deployment based on the number of incidents fired,” White told council members. “It will blanket the high crime areas of our city.” …

Mayor Mike Duggan briefly mentioned the city’s plan to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to expand the use of ShotSpotter during his State of the City address, but did not provide a specific. details. Funding is subject to City Council approval.

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Weapons seized last month in three Detroit warrant searches by 9th District special operations officers. “A [warrant] was secured following a ShotSpotter notification”, police station with this photo.

Critics raise concerns about effectiveness and “another form of surveillance that some see as an invasion of privacy,” said Bryce Huffman of the news site. He quotes Willie Burton, member of the District 5 Police Commission:

“ShotSpotter does not make us safer, it does not solve problems [contributing to gunfire] and no one wants to have their neighborhood picked up on the microphone.”

In a report Last August, the Chicago Inspector General’s Office said that city police “responses to ShotSpotter alerts rarely yield documented evidence of a gun crime, [an] arrest for investigation or recovery of a firearm”.

Additionally, the OIG has identified evidence that the introduction of ShotSpotter technology in Chicago has changed the way some CPD members view and interact with people in areas where ShotSpotter alerts are common.

A ACLU Senior policy analyst Jay Stanley last year detailed his unease with technology, including these issues:

ShotSpotter’s false alarms send police on multiple trips…to communities for no reason and on high alert, expecting to potentially encounter a dangerous situation. Given the already tragic number of black police shootings, this is a recipe for trouble. …

Placing sensors in some neighborhoods but not others means that the police will detect more incidents (real or fake) in the places where the sensors are. This can skew shooting statistics and create a circular statistical justification for over-surveillance in communities of color. …

Communities and the police services that serve them should reject this technology, at least until these issues are resolved, including through full transparency of its operation and effectiveness. … We believe that no police technology should be deployed or used unless the affected communities clearly want it.

Detroit has a $1.5 million contract with ShotSpotter Inc., based near San Francisco, which was approved in November 2020 and runs through 2023. Police have started using the technology in a six-mile radius squares in parts of the 8th and 9th arrondissements from March 2021.