|Odd looking pizza box size squares, two of many recently added to Uptown light poles.|
Besides the pizza to go boxes, along 3rd street and on top of a few uptown buildings, some questions have also popped up:
When CMPD's Deputy Chief Medlock first explained the Shotspotter concept and sought approval for a one year trial run, he told Charlotte City Council it wouldn't be up and running until after the DNC 2012 Convention. But as the CMPD email obtained by CP stated, the system went "live" last Monday. So, why the smoke screen?
Medlock also told council it would be deployed in a high crime area. However, Uptown where the equipment has been installed doesn't have a history of being either high crime area or an area plagued by gunfire and drive bys.
So why after all the talk of reducing crime was it not installed in East Charlotte or somewhere with a history of gun violence?
Since the Shotspotter technology has been installed in the area of the DNC 2012 and is now operational in time for the Democratic Convention why doesn't CMPD fund the project from DNC funds rather than taxpayers?
Then there is Medlock's assertion that you can't eavesdrop on conversations. Deputy Chief Medlock stated that "the sensors can’t record or detect human speech, and wouldn’t be used to spy on people" adding "it’s not a microphone.”
However, the Shotspotter technology is indeed able to pick up human speech as was the case with an audio recording of a street argument in New Bedford, MA that helped police arrest a suspect in a December 2011 murder.
Shotspotter officials say their acoustic sensors, are set up to detect gunfire, and are not designed to record conversations on the street. However, court documents show that audio surveillance helped provide specific details that enabled New Bedford Police to string together the sequence of events that ended in the fatal shooting. The full story is here.
CP's Take: Based on the above facts and quotes, Medlock is either not very well informed, or if he is well informed and he knows about the case above then he's a liar.
Then there is Youngstown Ohio, where Shotspotter is getting mixed reviews after two years. "Last year, Shotspotter was activated more than 22,000 times. Gunfire accounted for more than 2,000 of the alerts." More from Youngstown Channel WYTV 33 News here.
CP's Take: If 90% of the calls are false alarms, is it really a good system? Are we going to send screaming police cars up Trade Street 22,000 times in the next year?
And finally Plainfield New Jersey where last Saturday night there was a double shooting that police say Shotspotter failed to detect. The full story is here.
CP's Final Word: I'm all in when it comes to giving our department the tools to get the thugs off the street.
But I have to wonder if using the highly patrolled Uptown area, during the first weeks of September when it will have more law enforcement officers in a four square mile area than the entire State of Texas is very smart. Wouldn't it make more sense to do a "trial run" somewhere that the police can't be 24/7? Somewhere like the Theresa Elder Park in the Avondale Oaks neighborhood?