Thursday, February 21, 2013

Time to End the Failed ShotSpotter Experiment

A couple years ago, the Robinson-Briggs administration tried to convince the council to invest over a $1 million to purchase a system known as “ShotSpotter,” which was to be the answer to the city’s problem of guns and violence. Although Mayor Robinson-Briggs saw ShotSpotter as a panacea to the city’s rising violent crime statistics, many of us on the council were skeptical and felt that an investment of over a $1 million on a system that was reactive and not proven to be an effective tool in the crime fighting arsenal of law enforcement would be a waste of tax payers’ dollars.

We said no to the costly experiment; we rejected the Briggs’ administration’s desire to part with over a $1 million of tax payers’ money. Instead, we opted for a trial run of ShotSpotter at a significantly reduced price of $169,000, funded by a grant.

However, since the council’s approval of the trial run, the system has not been able to deliver on its promise to accurately detect gun shots fired within the zones covered by the technology. Many sources in the Plainfield law enforcement community reported many gun shots that were not detected by the ShotSpotter system, and the system itself has been plagued with problems.

A couple months ago, I suggested that no payments be made to the vendor and that the clock be reset to a new effective date, a date that would be determined after the system’s effectiveness has been verified. Unfortunately, no one in the city is able, at this time, after several additional months of testing, to say without doubt or hesitation that the ShotSpotter system is worth the investment or that it delivers any crime fighting advantage to Plainfield.

Therefore, I will be urging my colleagues and the Robinson-Briggs administration to abandon the ShotSpotter system and cut our losses. Furthermore, I am recommending that the dollars that were intended to fund the ShotSpotter system be reallocated to provide for the installation of security cameras across the entire city, with a heavy concentration in the areas known for their high crime rates.

Hence, let’s not waste any more time or money; let’s pull the plug on ShotSpotter, and let’s roll out the security cameras. Say “no” to ShotSpotter, “no” to continued wasteful spending by this administration, and “yes” to other proven effective public safety measures.