CHICAGO — The City of Chicago and SoundThinking, the company behind the gunshot detection technology ShotSpotter, have agreed to a contract extension for the service, avoiding a possible disruption that could have started at the end of the day Friday.

SoundThinking provided WGN News the following statement on current state of the contract between them and the city:

“In an effort to avoid any disruption in the critical ShotSpotter service to the citizens of Chicago, SoundThinking and the City of Chicago have reached an agreement for a contract extension that allows ShotSpotter services to continue through September 22, 2024, with an additional 2-month transition period to follow. SoundThinking will continue to provide the Chicago Police Department and the citizens of Chicago with the highest-quality gunshot detection services that the city has relied upon for the last seven years.

“SoundThinking will also continue to collaborate with the Chicago Police Department to develop the best possible metrics and analytics to drive transparency and optimize reporting.”

SoundThinking Spokesperson

CPD has used the technology since 2018, when the city signed its first contract to bring ShotSpotter technology to Chicago.

Pastor Donovan Price, who works to help families of shooting victims and survivors, said ShotSpotter is an invaluable tool.

“I don’t see how they could take away any tool that they have against the gunfight that we have in this city,” Price told WGN News. “The past couple of days I’ve been trying to imagine what it would be like without it and all I see is danger.”

But Price disagrees with Mayor Brandon Johnson’s stance on the use of the technology, and the mayor’s campaign promise to eliminate it in favor deploying other crime fighting strategies.

“I’ve been clear from the beginning,” Johnson said on ShotSpotter earlier this week. “That retiring and moving away from this particular form of technology, while providing a runway, is what I’ve said.”

Jonathan Manes, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center, said they studied Chicago’s ShotSpotter data, and the technology on a wider scale, from 2018-21, and the takeaway from their findings is not in favor of keeping the technology in place.

“90% of the time, the police arrive at the scene and find no evidence at all to corroborate that a gunshot was fired,” Manes said.

The Office of the Inspector General for the City of Chicago backed the numbers mentioned by Manes in their own investigation. Manes said the data also showed responses to alerts led to incidents of over-policing.

“We were able to find dozens of use of force by police that were linked to ShotSpotter alerts as well,” Manes said.

A spokesperson for SoundThinking said to WGN News Thursday the gunshot detection technology has saved hundreds of lives in Chicago when there is no call for help to 911.

While there’s no readily-available data to back up or dispute that claim, Price said if the technology can save one life or give first responders the chance to, it’s worth it.

“Data doesn’t show all the people who have been shot and nobody called,” Price said. “ShotSpotter sent the police right there.”

One such case was last October when 12-year-old Damien Green was shot in the head in Englewood, and left on the street alone to die. There was no 911 call and no one stayed on scene after the shooting, but police were brought there thanks to a gunshot detection alert and efforts to save his life were made.

“It’s the last cry for help, for somebody who can’t cry for help themselves,” Price said. “And that’s priceless in of itself.”

The mayor’s office provided WGN News the following statement after the ShotSpotter extension was announced:

“In an effort to avoid any interruption in the ShotSpotter service, the City of Chicago has signed an agreement with SoundThinking, Inc. for a contract extension through September 22, 2024, followed by a two-month transition period.”

“During the period until September 22, 2024, law enforcement and other community safety stakeholders will assess various tools, data and programs that build upon increased safety and trust, and issue recommendations to that effect. In advance of the September termination date, the Chicago Police Department will work to revamp operations within the Strategic Decision Support Centers, implement new training and further develop response models to gun violence that ultimately reduce shootings and increase accountability.

“Moving forward, the City of Chicago will deploy its resources on the most effective strategies and tactics proven to accelerate the current downward trend in violent crime. Doing this work, in consultation with law enforcement, community stakeholders, violence prevention organizations, and business and philanthropy partners, provides a pathway to a better, stronger, safer Chicago for all.”

It has not yet been made public how much the ShotSpotter extension will cost the city.