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February 16, 2024
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Eddie Johnson voices views against Chicago ShotSpotter, raising eyebrows.

TLDR: Former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is speaking out about Mayor Brandon Johnson’s decision not to renew the contract for the CPD’s ShotSpotter technology. Despite Johnson’s recommendation and the support of current Superintendent Larry Snelling, the mayor wants to end the contract and transition away from the technology. Former Superintendent Johnson believes that getting rid of ShotSpotter will mean that police and violent neighborhoods are losing an effective tool, and he estimates that about 80% of shots fired calls in challenging neighborhoods are made through ShotSpotter rather than by dialing 911. While Chicago is ending its use of the technology, neighboring Elmwood Park is considering investing in it and potentially pooling resources with other suburbs. The contract with SoundThinking, the company that owns ShotSpotter, ends Friday.

The former Chicago police superintendent who brought ShotSpotter to the city in 2017 is speaking out about Mayor Brandon Johnson’s decision not to renew a contract for the CPD technology. Eddie Johnson highly recommended the gunshot detection system to then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Despite support from Johnson and current Superintendent Larry Snelling, Mayor Johnson is getting rid of ShotSpotter.

Former Superintendent Johnson said police and violent neighborhoods are losing an effective tool that the mayor said will not be replaced “I think there’s like 80% of shots fired calls, and these challenging neighborhoods where people don’t dial 911, ShotSpotter took the place of that,” he said.

While Chicago is losing it, neighboring Elmwood Park is likely to invest in the technology, possibly pooling resources with other suburbs. Because it’s on the border of the city, Elmwood Park used CPD’s ShotSpotter in exchange for helping with their calls. “We are tied in with their technology, and it worked out great,” Elmwood Park Mayor Skip Saviano said.

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.

“Throughout much of 2023, SoundThinking attempted to engage the City of Chicago regarding an extension of the ShotSpotter service. As recently as December, 2023, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was presented to the city for a 12-month extension. “This same MOU was recently presented to the city. This resulted in preliminary discussions regarding a concept proposed by the city of an 8-9 month extension, enabling the city to complete a formalized RFP and evaluation for acoustic gunshot detection. “Contrary to those discussions and without consultation with SoundThinking, on February 12, 2024, Mayor Johnson announced a decommission plan, involving an extension of ShotSpotter through September 22,2024, one month after the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. “We believe the shared goal of an extension period must provide the best possible data and analysis to the residents of the City of Chicago through greater transparency and reporting standards. The way this is secured is through a minimum 12-month extension and modifications to the city’s current data and reporting protocols. “SoundThinking stands ready to continue its partnership with the City of Chicago to help address the tragic plague of gun violence.”

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