Detroit Justice Center Calls on City Council to Halt Expansion of ShotSpotter
Detroit City Council voted last week to uphold the contract for ShotSpotter in the two neighborhoods where it is already in operation. The Detroit Justice Center opposes the use of this surveillance technology and argues that it should not be expanded across the rest of the city. ShotSpotter is being touted by some as a preventative measure when it does not actually keep us safer. There is no data to prove that ShotSpotter keeps neighborhoods safe, and instead, it’s been shown that the technology cannot differentiate between gunfire and other loud noises. This reality means that investing in ShotSpotter is simply shoveling more money into DPD’s surveillance apparatus, which will lead to more racial profiling and a deterioration of the relationship between the community and police. “It defies logic why City Council is so adamant about spending money on a piece of surveillance technology that study after study has shown does not work. It is ineffective and any miniscule benefit that may hypothetically arise, is unequivocally outweighed by the myriad of real costs that Detroit residents will be forced to bear the brunt of. People are demanding real solutions to gun violence and ShotSpotter is not it.” Nancy A. Parker, DJC Managing Attorney.
Proponents of ShotSpotter are selling community members a false sense of hope that the technology will bring about an end to gun violence across Detroit. ShotSpotter has not proven to prevent or reduce gun violence anywhere it is currently in use. Despite this, six city councilors voted to uphold funding for ShotSpotter in two neighborhoods, and we hope they will address this lack of data and halt the expansion of funding it further. We recognize the very real desire for safety that Detroiters have and are arguing that the ARPA funds that are being proposed for ShotSpotter expansion instead go towards funding existing community-led programs and the creation of an alternative emergency response model based in the community. “We have heard many times from our city council members that it is necessary to invest in social services while also investing in ShotSpotter and that we should not have to make a choice. We firmly disagree. The choice will inevitably be made and history shows us that choice has consistently fallen on the side of more surveillance and policing. If we want different results and a lasting reduction in violence, we urge city council members to have the courage to do things differently by investing in longer-term strategies that will help to alleviate poverty and the subsequent stressors that often result in violence or harm to the community.” wrote Sheba Rogers, Senior Program Manager at the Detroit Justice Center.
We have to stop the cycle of short-term investments and technology-driven solutions for issues that are rooted in human needs not being met. The research and survey data from Detroiters are clear–residents want to see money invested in housing, education, restorative justice, healthcare and mental health, right to counsel, transportation and improved infrastructure. Any funding that goes toward ShotSpotter robs Detroiters of the investments we have been demanding to meet our basic human needs, which have gone unmet for decades.