Jun 8, 2022 - Politics

City Council mulling ShotSpotter expansion

Illustration of shattered glass in the shape of a gun.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Detroit City Council is considering spending more than $8 million in federal pandemic relief funds to renew and expand a controversial gunshot surveillance technology.

Why it matters: Police say ShotSpotter, which identifies the sound of gunshots by placing live microphones in public places, gives them pinpoint accuracy to locate gunshots. Others say it's invasive and questionably effective.

Context: ShotSpotter is currently being used in Detroit's 8th and 9th precincts, a total of about 6.5 square miles.

  • DPD is requesting $7 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to expand the tool to 28 miles and cover more districts.
  • The city signed the initial $1.5 million contract with ShotSpotter in 2020, the Detroit News reported.
  • Both contracts would run to Dec. 31, 2024.

What they're saying: "With a police department budget of $400 million, where is the $400 million for poverty prevention?" Minister Eric Blount of Sacred Heart Catholic Church said at yesterday's City Council meeting. "We must quickly get to the point of dedicating more resources to poverty prevention measures and away from the 'catch and jail.'"

  • Council Member Angela Whitfield-Calloway suggested money that could be used to expand ShotSpotter should instead address the housing crisis.

The other side: "If council is going to be serious about the issue of gun violence I think they should approve these contracts," said Willie Bell, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioner for District 4.

What's next: A possible committee discussion on June 13 and a future vote by the full council, BridgeDetroit reports.

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