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Pittsburgh expanding use of controversial gunshot detection system to Carrick

By Mamie Bah

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    PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The city of Pittsburgh plans to spend $85,000 to expand its use of ShotSpotter to Carrick.

“I think they’re putting the detectors up right now,” said Councilman Anthony Coghill, who represents that district.

The technology has been under fire. It can trigger a false alarm due to fireworks, motorcycle sounds or when a car backfires. Some people have also expressed concern that police use it to target Black and Brown communities.

Chicago recently joined a growing list of cities that ended their ShotSpotter contracts. Those there told KDKA-TV’s sister station CBS 2 that it’s long overdue.

“We have been fighting for this for the past 3 years,” said Navi Heer of the Stop ShotSpotter coalition. “This investment is policing, and surveillance tech is not leading to prevention of a reduction in gun crime overall.”

Coghill said he’s aware of cities putting an end to the technology, but here in Pittsburgh, the accuracy rate is high.

“I was just meeting with the police chief Scirotto and it’s 90-plus percent accurate. There are occasional where a car backfires, Fourth of July fireworks, that set off false alarms, but we feel it’s much safer and better to have this technology,” Coghill said.

As of 2021, the city spends more than $1.1 million a year for ShotSpotter gunshot detection system.

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