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Detroit again delays vote on $7 million ShotSpotter contract

user Ben Re

Detroit City Council has again delayed voting on a controversial $7 million contract that would expand a gunshot-detection technology throughout the city.

ShotSpotter uses sensors to try to determine when and where a gun is fired.

The city's initial plan was to fund the expansion with COVID relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, but the current proposal is to use the general Detroit Police Department fund.

Still, a majority of city council said it needs more time to decide whether to vote in favor of the technology.

For the second week in a row, Councilmembers Gabriela Santiago-Romero, Angela Whitfield Calloway and Mary Waters all voted against postponing the vote for another week.

They've all said they'll vote "no" once the council actually decides on the contract.

"I did not hear an overwhelming amount of people asking us to fund an overpriced microphone that will be used as an investigative tool," said Santiago-Romero. "I know that the City Council deciding to support Shotspotter is our desperate attempt to address crime but I’m not desperate enough to offer false solutions."

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of people have joined the council in person at its meetings or called in to comment on the contract. The majority have been against expanding the technology.

Council President Mary Sheffield supported delaying the vote. "Aside from the switching of funding, it’s important for me to understand the overall kind of comprehensive plan regarding how we support community-based organizations that are doing the work," she explained.

Last week, council voted to renew an existing contract with ShotSpotter in the two existing precincts where it is already in place.

Some public commenters requested that council reconsider the vote from last week, but Councilmember and President Pro Tem James Tate said the reconsideration period has closed.

The Detroit City Council delayed the vote until October 11.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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