Sep 28, 2022 - News

ShotSpotter vote delayed — again

Detroit City Council

Detroit City Council debates ShotSpotter contracts. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

City Council delayed a vote on a controversial gunshot surveillance tool for the second straight week.

Driving the news: Council decided against voting on the $7 million expansion of ShotSpotter yesterday after Council President Mary Sheffield suggested the city should explore alternative funding sources.

  • City Council did approve 6-3 a $1.5 million renewal in the areas where ShotSpotter is currently being used, including the eight and ninth police precincts.
  • Council members Mary Waters, Gabriela Santiago-Romero and Angela Whitfield-Calloway voted against the contract, as well as against pushing back the vote.

What's happening: Sheffield and Pro Tem James Tate said they would support expanding ShotSpotter if the $7 million weren't coming from American Rescue Plan funding meant for pandemic relief.

  • Sheffield floated an unnamed alternative funding source that she said is currently being explored.

What they're saying: "I don't believe in this false narrative where there has to be a situation where we support social services over policing," Tate said. "I believe we have to do both."

  • Whitfield-Calloway said she would vote no regardless of where the money came from, echoing the vocal opposition to a police tool that advocates say doesn't work.

Between the lines: Council member Coleman Young II criticized his colleagues for their willingness to push off voting, especially because of how many people showed up to have their voices heard yesterday morning.

  • "It's wrong for us to have these debates and have these discussions and have folks come down here and have them take time out of their lives on this serious issue," Young said.
  • Dozens of people filled the lobby after the council chamber had reached capacity. Many were upset they couldn't hear what was being said until staff produced a speaker to play alongside video of the meeting.
  • "Council member Young is saying 'We don't want to keep people waiting or in suspense' but that's exactly what you're doing by postponing this vote and not reappropriating those funds," Kamau Clark, an activist with We the People Michigan, tells Axios. Clark, who opposes ShotSpotter, said Young and the rest of the council's decision to delay was disappointing.

💭 Sam's thought bubble: Yesterday was a perfect example of why returning to the much larger Erma L. Henderson Auditorium for formal sessions needs to be a priority for City Council.


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