Chicago ShotSpotter technology contract to last through late September, company says

CHICAGO (WLS) — ShotSpotter will continue to work in Chicago through at least late September, the company that owns the technology said Friday.

The city’s contract to use the gunshot detection program was set to end at midnight but the two sides continued negotiating about a possible extension through Friday.

Friday evening SoundThinking, which owns ShotSpotter, announced it had reached an agreement with the city to extend the contract through September 22, with a transition period to follow that wasn’t defined.

“In an effort to avoid any disruption in the critical ShotSpotter service to the citizens of Chicago, SoundThinking and the City of Chicago have reached an agreement for a contract extension that allows ShotSpotter services to continue through September 22, 2024, with an additional 2-month transition period to follow,” the company said in a statement. “SoundThinking will continue to provide the Chicago Police Department and the citizens of Chicago with the highest-quality gunshot detection services that the city has relied upon for the last seven years. SoundThinking will also continue to collaborate with the Chicago Police Department to develop the best possible metrics and analytics to drive transparency and optimize reporting.”

In its own statement, the city of Chicago said “in advance of the September termination date, the Chicago Police Department will work to revamp operations, implement new training and further develop response models to gun violence that ultimately reduce shootings and increase accountability.”

Ending ShotSpotter was one of Mayor Johnson’s campaign promises. He said he would rather use the money to invest in prevention rather than tools that help officers just respond to crime.

The extension came as a relief to the chairman of the city council’s Public Safety Committee. Chicago’s historically violent summer months and the Democratic National Convention in August were crucial concerns for many city leaders.

“I know a majority of the city council would like to see ShotSpotter continue, assuming that it performs as we expect it to over the summer and during the time when the DNC is here,” said Ald. Brian Hopkins.

Community groups like Stop ShotSpotter Coalition praised the decision to cancel the gunshot detection system amid concerns of inaccuracy and over-policing. ABC7 reached out to the Stop ShotSpotter Coalition but they did not want to comment on the contract extension.

In 2021, the city’s Office of the Inspector General found that less than one in 10 ShotSpotter alerts found evidence of a gun crime.

City leaders said another seven months of the gunshot detection system, plus an additional two months of the “transition period” will give leaders time to determine how to move forward with public safety.

“I think I can speak for a number of other aldermen when we say we want to use this time to do a better job of gathering accurate data, to get a true assessment of ShotSpotter’s performance,” Hopkins said.

Full statement on ShotSpotter contract extension from the City of Chicago

“In an effort to avoid any interruption in the ShotSpotter service, the City of Chicago has signed an agreement with SoundThinking, Inc. for a contract extension through September 22, 2024, followed by a two-month transition period.

“During the period until September 22, 2024, law enforcement and other community safety stakeholders will assess various tools, data and programs that build upon increased safety and trust, and issue recommendations to that effect. In advance of the September termination date, the Chicago Police Department will work to revamp operations within the Strategic Decision Support Centers, implement new training and further develop response models to gun violence that ultimately reduce shootings and increase accountability.

“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 law enforcement, community stakeholders, violence prevention organizations, and business and philanthropy partners, provides a pathway to a better, stronger, safer Chicago for all.”

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