Current News



Chicago aldermen fighting gun violence deem ShotSpotter an 'invaluable tool' as council to consider bucking Mayor Johnson on the technology

Jake Sheridan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO — Despite Mayor Brandon Johnson’s plan to rid Chicago of ShotSpotter, nearly all aldermen representing the neighborhoods where people are most likely to be shot still want the controversial gunshot detection system to stay in their wards.

Fourteen aldermen in the 17 wards with the highest gunshot victimization rates told the Chicago Tribune they want to see the police response tool remain. Those aldermen — all representing South and West side wards — view the tool as a way to get first responders to gunshot victims faster, rather than the too-costly impetus for overpolicing it has been labeled by opponents.

The group of supporters forms the backbone of a push to take future control of the technology out of Johnson’s hands. An order up for a final vote Wednesday is designed to give the City Council power to determine ShotSpotter’s fate.

“If it can just do one thing good and save a life, it’s worth trying,” West Side Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th, told the Tribune.

The effort to undercut Johnson’s campaign promise to cancel the ShotSpotter contract pits many regular allies against him. They tout support for the system from neighborhood police district commanders and stark fears about what happens in the absence of the tool that often gives officers their only notice of gunfire.

But despite their concerns, ShotSpotter proponents in neighborhoods hard hit by violence say they didn’t hear from the mayor’s administration before Johnson announced the city would cut off the technology starting in September.


“I’m not trying to throw him under the bus, but I just think they need to have this conversation with us, since we are out here, on what works and what doesn’t work for us,” Mitts said.

The legislation would require a full City Council vote to remove ShotSpotter from any ward, leading to speculation the measure would lead to ward-by-ward approval for the technology. Sponsor Ald. David Moore, 17th, clarified that he hopes the legislation allows ShotSpotter to remain throughout the city.

A Johnson spokesperson wrote in a statement Tuesday that public safety is a “citywide issue” overseen by the Police Department and mayor that “cannot be effectively managed on a ward-by-ward basis in a way that undercuts that authority.”

As the last-ditch effort to revive ShotSpotter works through City Hall, the aldermen holding out for a gunshot detection system say they still have not heard from the mayor. Administration officials have not reached out to Moore since the South Side alderman’s order breezed through the council’s Police and Fire Committee two weeks ago, he said.


swipe to next page

©2024 Chicago Tribune. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus