Chicago aldermen challenge mayor's plan to phase out ShotSpotter

The controversial gunshot detection system known as ShotSpotter is facing renewed scrutiny and debate as Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's plan to phase it out by the end of the year encounters resistance from some city aldermen.

Despite Mayor Johnson's agreement to end the ShotSpotter contract by November, 17th Ward Alderman David Moore asserts that the mayor lacks the authority to unilaterally terminate the deal. Moore's ordinance, which is scheduled for a City Council vote on Wednesday, stipulates that the Council must approve any decision regarding the system.

Moore emphasized the importance of the City Council's involvement, aligning his stance with Police Superintendent Larry Snelling, who supports the technology as a vital tool in crime-solving efforts.

"If he needs it and supports it, what does that mean? It's working. And this over-policing thing, I am a young Black man from the Chicago projects, Englewood, ShotSpotter does not over-police our communities. It gives a sense of safety," Moore said.

The ordinance, backed by a robust lobbying campaign from SoundThinking, the company behind ShotSpotter, requires a majority Council vote to retain the system. This move follows a City Inspector General report that criticized the technology for seldom leading police to gun-related crimes.

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward) stands in opposition, supporting the Inspector General's findings over Superintendent Snelling’s endorsement. Sigcho-Lopez urged his colleagues to support the mayor's decision to phase out ShotSpotter.

"This software and the report of the Inspector Genral show that they do not work and that we need to look at different ways to address the issues of safety in the city," Sigcho-Lopez said.

In addition to the ShotSpotter debate, the City Council is set to introduce a symbolic resolution this week, calling for the resignation of CTA President Dorval Carter, an initiative that has garnered significant support from the aldermen.