Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Shame on Mayor Johnson for pandering to the criminals (just like Kim Foxx)

ShotSpotter CEO brands movement to dump gunshot-detection technology 'first cousin of defund the police'
On the eve of a City Council showdown, Ralph Clark argued “people will die” if Mayor Brandon Johnson is allowed to follow through on his promise to cancel the controversial gunshot detection technology contract on Nov. 22.
By Fran Spielman
May 21, 2024, 2:37pm CDT

ShotSpotter equipment in Chicago. A proposal before the Chicago City Council would prevent Mayor Brandon Johnson from canceling the city’s ShotSpotter contract.

The “very small but loud” movement to get rid of ShotSpotter is the “first cousin of defund the police,” the company CEO said Tuesday.

On the eve of a Chicago City Council showdown, Ralph Clark argued that “people will die” if Mayor Brandon Johnson is allowed to follow through on his promise to cancel the controversial gunshot detection technology contract on Nov. 22.

“If you have ongoing, chronic gunfire where there are gunshot wound victims and 80 to 90 percent of the time there’s not a 911 call, police and first responders aren’t gonna be able to get to those victims,” Clark, CEO of SoundThinking, formerly known as ShotSpotter, told the Sun-Times.

“Sometimes you have gunshot victims that are bleeding out. ... We know that time is literally tissue. It’s really important that you get first-responders there very quickly to be able to save lives.”

A proposal scheduled for a Council vote Wednesday would give Council members power over ShotSpotter in their wards by requiring the mayor to obtain approval from the full Council before eliminating the technology in a ward where the local alderperson wants to keep it.
RELATEDNew police stats give Chicago City Council ammo to support keeping ShotSpotter

Ald. David Moore (17th) said he has “about 30 votes” — four more than he needs — to pass that measure, which ShotSpotter’s lobbyist helped to draft.

The order also mandates the Chicago Police Department to collect more specific data to justify signing a new long-term contract with ShotSpotter instead of terminating the agreement on Nov. 22, as called for under the nine-month extension Johnson hastily negotiated after the fact at a rate significantly higher than the city paid for the entire past year of service. That extension will cover Chicago’s traditionally violent summer months, as well as the Democratic National Convention in August

“We’ll pass it. What happens after that, I have no idea,” Moore said Tuesday.

“He didn’t say he was going to veto it. … I can’t assume he’s going to do it. He shouldn’t, because not only do the residents want it, and they feel safe with it — the [police] superintendent says this is a tool that’s needed.”

Johnson had a history of supporting the concept of defunding the police before distancing himselffrom that past support in the runoff campaign against Paul Vallas, who was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

On Tuesday, Clark used those same politically loaded words to describe what he called the “very small, but loud” movement that has pushed Johnson to get rid of ShotSpotter.

RELATEDIf ShotSpotter constantly misfires, what’s Chicago getting for its $33 million?

“A lot of their motivation has to do with … looking at things through too fine of a criminal justice lens and really ignoring the victimization that takes place with respect to gun violence,” Clark said.

“A number of them ... come from the defund the police movement and this is just a … first cousin of defund the police. Take away their technology tools. … There’s an element or piece of that that is very challenged by innovation and technology. They’re afraid of it and scared of it. You put all of those things together and that’s what we have with these very few, but loud folks ... organized to kind of push back and conflate a whole bunch of issues.”

Freddy Martinez, executive director of the Lucy Parsons Project, is a leader of the movement to get rid of ShotSpotter on grounds that it is too costly, ineffective and contributes to overpolicing in Black and Brown communities where the majority of gun violence occurs.

Martinez on Tuesday accused Clark of “attempting to discredit reasonable conclusions drawn by many groups and trying to pin that on ‘defund the police.’”

Martinez dismissed as “scaremongering” Clark’s claim that people will die if his company’s contract is canceled.

“We have seen people falsely arrested and killed because of ShotSpotter alerts,” Martinez said, apparently referring to the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in March 2021.
RELATEDCity expands ShotSpotter sensors and gunfire intelligence centers

Clark acknowledged Council approval of the ShotSpotter order could set the stage for the first veto by a mayor who already has been forced to cast two tie-breaking Council votes.

That could be followed by a legal battle between the executive and legislative branches of city government not seen since Council Wars.

Johnson previewed that battle by arguing the order stripping him of the power to cancel the ShotSpotter contract has no “legal standing.”

The mayor has maintained there is “no process by which you could govern through a la carte” and no way to “do that type of ward-by-ward contracting.”

Clark believes the law is on his side.

“The charter for the city of Chicago, my understanding, is that this is a strong City Council and that the City Council can direct certain appropriations,” he said.

“If they were able to pass a veto-proof order to continue the service, my understanding is that the mayor would be compelled to do that if they could override a veto.”

Asked if he could round up the 34 votes needed to override a mayoral veto, Moore replied:

“I’m not sure. I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there.”

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