Salinas City Council is considering renewing the city’s ShotSpotter subscription, but not everyone is in favor.
Celia Jiménez here, thinking about a topic that caught my attention: Potential renewal of ShotSpotter by the Salinas Police Department, a system that locates and alerts officers to gunfire.
Today, the municipal council of Salinas could vote to renew this service, an annual subscription for $ 455,000. City staff recommends renewal for the period December 14, 2021 to December 13, 2022. However, the staff recommendation does not include any data showing the benefits of this system. Council will also vote on the approval of a two-year lease ($ 52,500) for 20 automated license plate cameras from Flock Group, Inc.
Not everyone is in favor of renewing ShotSpotter—Local organizations such as Agents of Change, Community Before Cops, and Reinvest Salinas are encouraging people on social media to submit comments against the renewal. “This system does not prevent crime and has been shown to be ineffective, wasting $ 455,000 per year,” said the post the groups shared on Instagram. Also on social media, Agents of Change said ShotSpotter “hasn’t proven to prevent violence.” The post seeks suggestions on what else could be done with this money to benefit the community.
A recent study by Northwestern University MacArthur Justice Center reviewed ShotSpotter’s Chicago deployments from July 1, 2019 to April 14, 2021. He found 89 percent of alerts were not for gun crimes and 86 percent reported no crime. However, Ray Lopez, representative of the 15th Ward in Chicago, told ABC7 that the system, which uses acoustic sensors to identify shots and provides police and other law enforcement agencies with the location of the shots, helping fill officer shortages. This is a situation that Salinas PD is also experiencing.
On its website, ShotSpotter claims save lives, reduce shootings, highlight underreported gunfire and help gather evidence.
The system as used by the Salinas PD last month during the two shootings that took place in North Salinas, near the El Gabilan library where a homicide was committed and the police quickly arrived. (The story quickly grabbed the headlines, as police shot dead a suspect upon arrival.) The Salinas PD and the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office were collecting information about the shootings. Salinas Police Chief Roberto Filice said that thanks to ShotSpotter, officers were able to arrest the suspect in this case and many others. “We were able to build a case,” says Filice, adding that they are pulling criminals off the streets and helping injured people they find there.
Filice says last year there were over 250 shots on alert, and corresponding 911 calls for less than 20% of them. “Sounds travel, so when people call 911, it doesn’t necessarily mean they know the exact location,” Filice adds.
On social media, the Association of Police Officers of Salinas asks the community to show its support for the system: “ShotSpotter is an invaluable tool that assists officers and the medical response to shooting victims without delay,” the union posted on its Facebook page. They also argue that approval of this agenda item would align with the objective of the city’s strategic public safety plan: “to maintain existing community policing policies and to provide medical services to the public. emergency in a cost-effective and responsive manner ”.
Council meeting started at 4 p.m.– you can watch it online on the city’s Youtube channel.
-Celia Jiménez, editor, [email protected]
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