Detroit City Council approved $1.5 million to renew a system designed to detect gunfire, but they’re delaying a vote on whether to spend $7 million to expand it.
ShotSpotter relies on sensors to pinpoint where gunshots are occurring. Detroit police say the system is necessary because residents in some high-crime areas have become so used to gunshots that they no longer notify law enforcement when they hear a shooting. But several council members question whether the $7 million price tag for expanding ShotSpotter is worth it.
They argue the system has not been a successful deterrent to crime in other major cities where it is in use.
“Chicago got rid of it because it wasn’t working for them, but we have to address the breeding grounds for violence: poverty, housing, mental illness, structural racism just to name a few,” council member Mary Waters said (h/t The Detroit News). “When we first got Green Light, I was excited about it. … You can go to a gas station and people feel comfortable getting out of their car and shooting someone even though there’s GreenLight. You think they’re going to give a damn about ShotSpotter? Show me some data that it’s working before you scare our people. We have got to do something to protect our people.”
Detroit police chief James White stated his case to city council members in support of expanding Shotspotter, saying the $7 million expense is justified if more lives can be saved.
“This is murder or its attempt. We should all be terrified and do everything we can to make sure that’s being investigated. Only 10% of people call 9-1-1,” White said. “People are prisoners in their own home and are afraid to get involved. This allows us to know where this gunshot comes from within 80-90 feet. Yes, it costs $7 million, but what is the cost of a life?”
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Photo Credit: ShotSpotter