Tracked and Traced: Reporting on surveillance in Detroit

In the final episode of Tracked and Traced, three reporters talk about what they’ve seen, or see coming, with surveillance in Detroit. Plus, a conversation with data rights organizer Tawana Petty.

Woman monitors security footage at Detroit's Real Time Crime Center

An employee reviews archival security footage at Detroit's Real Time Crime Center.

Detroit Police are likely to increase the amount of surveillance technology they use this year. Existing technologies like Project Green Light and ShotSpotter may expand, and new technologies like Evolv weapon detection technology are being implemented to deter mass shootings.

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In this episode:

  • Detroit adds Evolv Technology to toolbox targeting gun violence, reporting from WDET’s Eli Newman
  • Updates on ShotSpotter audio gunshot detection technology from Bridge Detroit’s Bryce Huffman
  • Reporter roundtable on FOIA requests, bodycam footage, and the role journalism plays in transparency and accountability of surveillance technology, with Russ McNamara (WDET), Eli Newman (WDET), and Bryce Huffman (Bridge Detroit)
  • Data rights organizer Tawana Petty on the impact that surveillance has on Detroiters

Evolv Technology

There is a new surveillance technology the Detroit Police Department is using to combat gun violence. Evolv is a weapons detection system that resembles a metal detector, or gate. Using low-frequency electromagnetic fields, Evolv systems can scan people who walk through the gate for weapons.

Detroit Police recently spent $1.3 million for 10 Evolv weapon detection systems. The systems are mobile and can be placed at entrance points for live events where large amounts of people are gathering.


The Detroit Police Department uses an audio gunshot detection system, ShotSpotter, to monitor the 8th and 9th precincts for gun violence. 

As of now, ShotSpotter covers about 6 square miles of the city, but if a proposed $7 million contract is approved using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the system would expand to cover 28 square miles of Detroit.

Detroit City Council will need to approve the proposed expansion.

Previous episodes of Tracked and Traced:

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  • David Leins

    David Leins is a Podcast Coordinator and Producer at WDET. He also oversees the StoryMakers program. When he isn't making radio and podcasts, David is probably on a hike somewhere marveling at the trees.