The city council announced Monday that a proposed contract for technology that uses microphones and sensors to pinpoint the location of gunfire and quickly alert police would be held for a week.
According to Mayor Victor Gordo, city officials will provide the city council with more information through Shotspotter, a system that records loud, impulsive noises and alerts police of the location of the shot in 60 seconds or less. Proponents believe the system could save lives, deter shootings, and prevent the need to investigate incidents unrelated to firearms, such as fireworks.
The Pasadena Police Department has responded to more than 300 service calls from people reporting gunshots and another 400 incidents of gun-related crime in the past two years.
In fact, less than an hour after the city council announced the issue would not be discussed, gunfire rang out in northwest Pasadena.
Nearly 40 people have been killed or injured by gun violence in the past two years.
Almost 700 firearms were confiscated by the police.
Lt. Pasadena Police Department Bill Grisafe said ShotSpotter suggested covering approximately three square miles of area of Pasadena most affected by gun violence after analyzing police data.
No specific area was mentioned as being considered.
According to a report to the Council Public Security Committee, which passed the matter last week, the Pasadena Police Department intends to use ShotSpotter sensors in areas that they have found to be “most vulnerable to gun crimes.”
The ACLU claims reasoning will add to the police footprint in black and brown communities.
During the public safety committee meeting, council member John Kennedy, a committee member, urged staff to provide more data about the artificial intelligence powered system.
Kennedy cited reports and concerns about the effectiveness of the system and the possibility that it could lead to excessive surveillance in areas that use firearms detectors, which he believes are areas of northwest Pasadena.
In correspondence with the council, the ACLU alleged that the technology was harmful to non-police communities.
“We can assume that acquiring this technology will harm the most vulnerable populations in this city, who have been overly monitored, monitored and undervalued in recent years,” the letter said.
City Manager Steve Mermell called Shotspotter a tool with which the police can react and hopefully support an investigation.
Mermell emphasized his belief that the system is needed given the increase in gun-related incidents in the city over the past two years.
“It would be in a part of our city where we have the most gun violence incidents and the people who live in these areas of our community shouldn’t have to put up with gun violence for help, it’s worth a try,” said Mermell.
Just days after its deployment in Detroit, the software led police to a house used by a gang to assemble, test, and sell ghost weapons. 75 cartridge cases were found in the back yard where the guns were tested. One of the gang members was wanted in a non-fatal knife fight.
Critics cite studies conducted in Chicago and St. Louis that claim technology has not reduced crime.
According to research by the Associated Press, the system may miss live gunfire directly below its microphones or mistakenly classify the sounds of fireworks or cars backfiring as gunfire.