Apparently this unfortunately named thing is an expensive, microphone-based technology designed to triangulate on the sound of gunfire and pinpoint its location. The company responsible admits that its technology is only about 80% accurate in identifying gunfire yet charges a hefty amount for the installation plus an annual monitoring fee of around $300,000 for a city the size of Toronto.
Councillor Frances Nunziata, the newest member Toronto’s Police Board was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying, “We’re all fed up with gun violence” and, “It’s enough playing political games, we need to get this done”. Ms Nunziata, in office since 1988 has herself played political games for decades by voting for low property taxes and against efforts to ease poverty. The results of the city’s collective failure to deal with poverty are becoming evident in Toronto’s recent surge in gun crime.
ShotSpotter is a technology that gets around the need to work with a community to report crime. Instead, it is imposed on them and treats a community as hostile by using the police as an occupying force.
Readers may be aware that Michael Tibollo, Ontario Minister of Community Safety has been heavily criticized for announcing that he donned a bulletproof vest and went on a Toronto Police night shift in the Jane / Finch area. (To their credit, Mayor Tory and Premier Ford chose to take the same excursion without the vests.) Not to be outdone, council self-promoter Giorgio Mammoliti got in on the act Friday, doing the same tour (Jane and Finch is in his ward) and seeking the protection of a vest. As of Saturday morning, there was no indication that the councillor had survived his ride-along. Mammoliti has been representing the people of Jane and Finch since 1995. Sadly, most of his efforts seem to go into self-promotion and erecting a giant flagpole rather than doing anything to help constituents.
The new minister and veteran Councillors Nunziata and Mammoliti ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of people live and work in areas like Jane and Finch every day of the year yet have no protection from crimes and other dangerous random events. Minister Tibollo’s accusers have called him a racist but his ignorance of community safety issues does not bode well either.
As for ShotSpotter – it’s something that will allow the Police Board to say that they have done something but it’s largely ineffective. What is needed from our short sighted Police Board and Council, is money spent on citizen outreach so that police aren’t seen as an occupying force but rather the arm of every community in this city. That’s what will achieve results, not gimmickry. We also need money consistently spent on fixing public housing and anti-poverty programs, not one-time reactions to perceived crime waves.
Incidentally, ShotSpotter is listed on the Nasdaq exchange and its price has risen more than 54% in less than two months. Coincidence? With North America’s fourth largest city about to sign up, you be the judge. Let’s hope that decision-makers holding the stock have declared a conflict of interest.