Chicago aldermen delay vote on ShotSpotter contract

Two Chicago aldermen moved to delay voting on a measure that would require a full city council vote before removing ShotSpotter sensors.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson greets students, parents, and staff during the first day of classes at Beidler Elementary School on August 21, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

SoundThinking, the company that makes the gunshot surveillance system ShotSpotter, is in danger of losing its contract with the City of Chicago, according to a report by CBS.

On Wednesday, two aldermen moved to delay voting on a measure that would require a full city council vote before removing ShotSpotter sensors from any wards.

ShotSpotter distributes microphones around selected neighborhoods and claims the technology can detect the sound of gunfire from other similar noises, identify the sounds’ locations and notify police in the area to investigate.

A MacArthur Justice Center study published in 2021, which used data from the Chicago Police Department, revealed that nearly 89% of ShotSpotter deployments resulted in no gun-related crime and no official report of any crime. Chicago’s Office of Inspector General also conducted a study, which found that the technology prompts thousands of unjustified police deployments each year.


Chicago installed ShotSpotter in 2012 within a three-square-mile area, but quickly expanded to cover 136 square miles by 2018. Despite the company’s claims of accuracy and contributions to increased public safety, the technology has been met with widespread criticism, including from Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.

Johnson pledged to end the city’s contract with the controversial technology company during his 2023 campaign, alleging the system is unreliable. On Feb. 13, Johnson announced the city would not renew its contract with SoundThinking, which was set to expire a few days later, and would officially decommission its use in September.

“The Chicago Police Department will work to revamp operations within the Strategic Decision Support Centers, implement new training and further develop response models to gun violence that ultimately reduce shootings and increase accountability,” read a press release from the mayor’s office. “Moving forward, the City of Chicago will deploy its resources on the most effective strategies and tactics proven to accelerate the current downward trend in violent crime.”

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Friday.

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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