Pro-ShotSpotter order passes City Council in a landslide. Why don’t North Side aldermen want South Siders to have it?

Left: Wards represented by aldermen who voted against the ShotSpotter order are seen in red, those in favor in green. Two aldermen did not vote. At right: A map showing the locations of every ShotSpotter alert in the system’s history. (ShotSpotter hit map via City of Chicago Data Portal)

CHICAGO — The Chicago City Council on Wednesday delivered a clear message to Mayor Brandon Johnson: We want ShotSpotter to stay. Aldermen voted 34-14 in favor of keeping the gunfire detection system and gathering more data about its performance.

Incredibly, most aldermen voting in support of Johnson’s cancellation of ShotSpotter represent areas that don’t even have the devices. Meanwhile, aldermen who represent neighborhoods with the most ShotSpotter activity largely voted to keep it.

It’s an awkward political situation in which aldermen representing some of the city’s safest neighborhoods appear to be telling colleagues in less privileged wards that they can’t have a public safety tool they want.

Chicago wards are ranked by the total number of ShotSpotter hits, with the respective alderman’s vote labeled in green (for ShotSpotter) or red (against ShotSpotter). Two aldermen did not vote.

The order requires Johnson to provide aldermen with an array of ShotSpotter data before the devices can be removed from any ward.

Wednesday’s vote was overwhelming, with enough aldermen voting in favor of the action to overrule a mayoral veto. But there are serious questions about whether the order can actually force Johnson to enter into a contract to continue ShotSpotter services beyond its current termination date in November.

However, the vote could give Johnson political cover to sign a new deal by allowing him to say he is listening to what the people want.

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