Detroit Cops Want $7 Million in COVID Relief Money for Surveillance Microphones
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Intercept
Posted: November 8th, 2022
Detroit’s city council will soon vote on whether to spend millions in federal cash meant to ease the economic pains of the coronavirus pandemic on ShotSpotter, a controversial surveillance technology critics say is invasive, discriminatory, and fundamentally broken. ShotSpotter purports to do one thing very well: telling cops a gun has been fired as soon as the trigger is pulled. Using a network of microphones hitched to telephone poles, rooftops, and other urban vantage points, ShotSpotter is essentially an Alexa that listens for a bang rather than voice commands. Despite ShotSpotter’s corporate claims of 97 percent accuracy, the technology’s efficacy has been derided as dangerously ineffective — a techno-solutionist approach to public safety. ShotSpotter’s opponents in Detroit agreed that gun violence is a serious problem but said Covid-19 relief money would be far better spent on addressing the social ills that form the basis of crime. “If people had jobs, money, after-school programs, housing, the things that they need, that’s going to reduce gun violence,” said Alyx Goodwin, a campaign organizer with Action Center on Race and the Economy. Snyder pointed to the fundamental irony of diverting public money billed as form of relief for the pandemic’s downtrodden to surveil those very same people. ShotSpotter explicitly urges cities to tap funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, intended to salve financial hardship caused by the pandemic, to buy new surveillance microphones.