ShotSpotter is a Probable Cause Generator

On today’s show we discuss the gunshot detection system ShotSpotter with Alejandro Ruizesesparza from the Cancel ShotSpotter Coalition and Jonathan Manes, an attorney in  the MacArthur Justice Center’s Illinois Office. Our discussion focuses on why activists and communities are rising up to confront the Chicago Police Department on their use of ShotSpotter.

The scary truth about ShotSpotter is that the technology has never been independently validated so really the only evidence that the technology is reliable is from the company itself and from police departments that use the technology. It is pretty clear that both the company ShotSpotter and the various police departments that use the technology are rewarded for saying it works regardless of whether it does or not. The company gets additional sales of their technology while the police departments get a automated probably cause generator. Whether or not there was an actual shooting is irrelevant to the officers being sent to the scene because they have a system that says there was and that is all the probably cause they need to stop and frisk anyone they want in the vicinity of the alert. The incentives are built in to have both parties lie or completely ignore the validity of the ShotSpotter technology because they both benefit from the system.

You also need to remember that the CPD with its $1.7 billion plus budget could not provide any statistics or data to prove the technology helps the police do their job. At the CPD’s budget hearing Supt. Brown could only say that ShotSpotter helped them get to scenes quicker and has most certainly saved lives. Great! Show us the data. He had nothing.

Tracy has nearly two decades of experience researching and working within criminal justice systems. When Tracy began pursuing a career dedicate to system reform, he found that no single organization existed to promote evidence-based discussions among law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Recognizing that citizens in Chicago deserved the right to demand transparency in their criminal justice system, Siska established the Chicago Justice Project. He received his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Chicago Justice Podcast

This is our Chicago Justice Podcast that covers crime, violence, and justice issues in Chicago. We will feature deep dives in to justice system data, interview with researchers and justice system reform advocates, as well as evaluations of justice system practices.

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