Portland Axes Gunshot Detection Tech Plans for Police
Thursday, June 8, 2023
Portland has nixed plans to bring gunshot detection technology to the city.
The technology - designed by a company formerly known as ShotSpotter, and now called SoundThinking - raised concerns among some Portlanders that it might be used to more heavily police low income communities and communities of color.
In his announcement, Mayor Ted Wheeler said the city would not move forward with the project because of resource constraints.
Jake Dockter is a community advocate who has organized against the technology and said the mayor's statement evoked mixed emotions.
"A thankful sigh of relief that it won't be happening," said Dockter, "and then also a continued frustration with the mayor and law enforcement to say even in your 'We're not doing it right now' is them admitting that they're not listening to the community, and that it seems to be a foregone conclusion that we'll have to swallow this pill at some point."
Critics say other cities have dropped their contracts with SoundThinking because the technology is not effective.
It was also revealed that the company fostered close ties with members of the police bureau to help bring the technology to Portland.
Wheeler said the city will look at other ways to tackle gun violence, including a program called Portland Ceasefire. But Dockter said local groups have not been included in this new initiative.
"It's just another example of looking for a solution, while local groups and local people are saying 'we're here and we need support and we need activity,'" said Dockter. "They're being left out."
The city is pursuing new initiatives modeled on programs from cities around the country. While gun violence increased in Portland and nationally at the start of the pandemic, it has since declined.
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