Worth a shot

I see that the Portland police want to try placing gunshot detection sensors around various parts of town. This would let them know right away when and where gunfire happens, without relying on the vagaries of the 911 system. A lot of people who hear gunfire don't even bother to call it in, because they know they'll sit on hold, and the cops probably won't do anything anyway.

Of course, the usual suspects are dead set against the sensors, known as ShotSpotter. The fearless city commissioner Jo Ann With the Bullhorn, for example, is already signalling she's going to stand in the way

"[W]ithout a sound plan in place I am concerned this will be a tool for surveilling and over-policing low income neighborhoods and communities of color that does nothing to actually reduce gun violence.

"And if we truly want to reduce crime we need to expand investments to address the underlying problems people face that drive them to commit crimes such as poverty.”

She's been singing this song for years, and it's getting mighty old. The statistics are pretty clear. Murder by gun is out of control in Portland. Every argument among gang members of a certain gender, age, and race is settled by shooting. We know where the shooting is happening and who's doing it. Let's not kid ourselves about where, and against whom, enforcement efforts need to be directed.

Portland needs more cops, and they need more tools. A device that sends a signal when gunshots are audible on a public street is not intrusive on anyone's privacy. Google does far worse, on a much larger scale, every minute of every day. And putting ShotSpotter in the West Hills, and other places where the guns don't go off, seems like a waste of money for meaningless symbolism.

Portland need to try some version of this, at least. The bodies are piling up.

And let's get real. By that I mean, for the love of God, let's get somebody real in that City Council seat in a few months.


  1. I guess Jo Ann Hardesty thinks it is okay to shoot people if you are poor.

  2. You are absolutely right on this and one more reason why the Commissioner needs to be replaced.

  3. Bean with the BullhornJuly 20, 2022 at 10:09 AM


    N-O No.

    A quick run through the Google machine shows us San Diego is going through a process similar to what we're doing in Portland. Five bucks says they're running the same play in other cities as well. I suspect this is being pushed by sales dudes on the corporate side who may not have the interests of Portland's citizens at heart.

    Let's see how it goes elsewhere before we go signing seven-figure checks with eight-figure, multi-year service agreements. In the meantime, Portland desperately needs to focus on rebuilding its police force.

    1. Remember Opie Sten's free municipal wi-fi? Good times.

    2. I mean, this is that on steroids. "Public Safety" means they can charge what they want. There are budget dollars there. The initial outlay will include equipment and installation. EASILY into eight-figures after you count man hours. Then comes the service contract. Five years at $100k/month? That's conservative. Figure there's a tech assigned to the account (they'll charge for 1.0 FTE, but actually receive 0.2 FTE). Plus ongoing maintenance and stuff. Pretty soon, you're talking about real money.

      All this for what? Figure 40% are false-positives. They'll clear less than 10% of the remaining 60%. Convictions? Forget it. San Diego got one. ONE.

      Hire more cops. Offer them more money to live inside the city limits. Figure out a way where they can get back to protecting AND serving rather than...this. There is a way.

    3. The way Portland burns through money, on way crazier stuff than this, the financial arguments don't impress me much. But I agree, first and foremost, more, and better, cops.

    4. Chicagoan Claims Gunshot Detection System Used to Wrongly Charge Him With Murder
      A Chicago man who spent a year in jail before murder charges against him were dropped for lack of evidence is suing the city, alleging police officers based his arrest solely on a gunshot detection system that he called unreliable. Michael Williams' class action lawsuit seeks damages for mental anguish, lost wages and the legal costs he racked up as he awaited trial after being charged with the 2020 murder of neighbor Safarian Herring. The lawsuit claims his arrest was based solely on an indication by the ShotSpotter acoustic detection system that his car was in the area of a gunshot with no other corroborating evidence or motive tying him to Herring's death. In addition to compensation for his damages, his suit seeks to represent anyone who had been stopped based on ShotSpotter alerts and to prevent Chicago from continuing to use the technology.

      Brad Matthews, Washington Times 7/21/2022 FULL ARTICLE



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