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York residents express concern with $2.7 million policing bill

The York City Council struck down a part of the bill that included the controversial program, ShotSpotter, after residents voiced opposition to it.

YORK, Pa. — ShotSpotter is a program that uses various sorts of technology to detect gunshots and calculate their location. It's also one of the many programs that was included in a $2.7 million bill hoping to aid the York City Police Department in gun violence prevention.

However, according to York City resident Manuel Gomez, there isn't recent data that shows ShotSpotter's effectiveness. Gomez voiced his thoughts at a York City Council meeting on Tuesday night. 

"I almost feel like it is déjà vu, something like 14 years ago when I first opposed ShotSpotter," said Gomez. "Our own internal test accounted for as many as two-thirds of the ShotSpotter alerts being an error [or] false alerts."

Another York resident at the meeting cited a report from the American Civil Liberties Union that found ShotSpotter detected more than 60 false alerts per day in the city of Chicago.

Community members like York business owner Melissa Rosario expressed similar concerns with ShotSpotter's miscalculations in other cities.

"What confidence do we have in this program that this is not going to happen in York City?" asked Rosario.

Mayor Michael Helfrich of York said he is aware of the previous problems with this program.

"That old ShotSpotter was trash, and we told ShotSpotter that it was trash, and they spent a very long time explaining to us all the things that have been changed and I've spent time speaking with other mayors," he explained.

Additionally, York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow said this program will target areas that are in need of trauma counselors and other resources.

"My thing is trying to affect our neighborhoods and trying to break this constant chain of being traumatized and traumatizing someone else," said Muldrow.

After an hour-long discussion, the Council voted to remove the ShotSpotter program from this portion of the bill but keep the other programs intact.  

Mayor Helfrich agreed to gather more data on ShotSpotter and re-introduce it to the council within the next month.

ShotSpotter said this about their system in a statement:

“ShotSpotter is an acoustic gunshot detection system that alerts police of virtually all gunfire within a city’s ShotSpotter Coverage Area within 60 seconds – enabling a fast, precise police response, ultimately helping police officers save lives. ShotSpotter has been in operation for 25 years and serves more than 120 cities because it is an accurate and effective tool. ShotSpotter has earned trust and high renewal rates from many police departments because the system has been proven to help to save lives, capture critical evidence, improve public safety, and bolster community trust.”

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