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Chicago Police to expand tech-based crime-fighting initiatives

Screen shot of Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson holding a press conference to discuss new crime-fighting-tech tactics, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. | Chicago Police

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Tuesday announced an expansion of technology-based initiatives that he said have helped reduce shootings by 13 percent citywide this year so far.

The Gresham District will be the latest district to have the ShotSpotter gun shot sensor program and the Strategic Decision Support Center. The programs allow analysts from the police department and the University of Chicago Crime Lab to review gunfire data and ultimately determine which areas need more officers.

Police response time has increased by five to seven minutes in the four districts that currently have ShotSpotter, which directs officers to the sites where shots were fired, Johnson said at a news conference.

Johnson called investments in policing technology “the centerpiece of Chicago’s crime strategy.”

The effect of the crime strategy is noticeable in the city’s hot spots, he said. Shootings have been reduced by 37 percent in the Englewood District and by 27 percent in the Harrison District. The Deering and Austin districts saw reductions by 17 and 14 percent, respectively.

Although the number of shootings in the city are down, the number of homicides is up.

And while the Harrison District may have seen a decline in shootings, crime has gone up in the neighboring Ogden District, Johnson said. For Gresham, the addition of the ShotSpotter program will lead to better prosecutions and prevention of shooting incidents, Cmdr. William Bradley said.

“While this is still a pilot program, we’ve seen promising signs that utilizing this technology to make us more predictive in our deployments and faster in our response times is helping us to reduce violence,” Johnson said.

Johnson compared crime fighting to squeezing a balloon: you squeeze one side, and sometimes all of the air is forced to the other.

The Ogden district is another high crime neighborhood that will be getting the technology-based initiatives soon, police officials said.

Though the programs have helped, Johnson said information from the community is key.

“We know that people in these neighborhoods hear and know who these individuals are,” the top cop said. “When the neighborhoods get fed up and start giving us the information we need then we’ll start seeing a reduction in gun violence.”