Magical Bullet Detector

The Mayor’s office is claiming a 60% drop in shootings in Englewood in February due to the Shotspotter program, an automated system that detects and reports gunshots immediately to the police department, helping police arrive at the scene of a shooting a reported average of 3 to 4 minutes sooner.

Predictably, Second City Cop is skeptical, noting that Shotspotter “is buggy as hell and down for unexplained reasons 25-to-40% of the time.” A commenter there notes:

“Here’s what we’ve tallied for those two districts:

Jan 2016 – 24 shot, 6 fatally (1 PO-involved)
Feb 2016 – 26 shot, 4 fatally
Jan 2017 – 30 shot, 6 fatally
Feb 2017 – 20 shot, 2 fatally

Jan 2016 – 51 shot, 6 fatally
Feb 2016 – 26 shot, 4 fatally
Jan 2017 – 53 shot, 14 fatally
Feb 2017 – 19 shot, 1 fatally

February is ALWAYS the quietest month of the year which makes for a horrible, albeit politically advantageous comparison point.”

So basically, shootings in those districts were up from last year in January, (and shootings and homicides are up from last year overall, with Englewood being a hot spot for same), so focusing on February is some pretty transparent cherry-picking there.

One of my neighbors at NextDoor posted an article critical of Shotspotter. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast mentioned in the article, but once I have I’ll post an update here if it has anything much that is not already mentioned.


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