(TNS) — After hearing a raft of concerns from the public about a planned expansion of the
Councilors overwhelmingly supported an expansion of existing
But along with many residents who called into the virtual meeting, several councilors balked at the proposed deal with
Ultimately, the council voted to approve the funding for the expansion of the existing
Councilors Tuesday were asked to approve a $150,000 transfer to pay for a 2.6 square-mile expansion of the program into the
Deputy Police Chief
Saucier and police Chief
Saucier said the department already heavily relies on crime statistics to decide where to deploy resources. The new system automates the process, and updates crime forecasts for each shift over a 24-hour period.
He said the system would create a “hotspot map” for each shift, and would send officers on “directed patrols” to those areas.
Saucier said if the city uses the new ShotSpotter Connect technology, it would help officers do their jobs more effectively. He said officers would have two to three hotspot areas they would have to visit a few times per shift. He said the approach could be varied – an officer could simply go to the area and stay there while writing reports, or they could park and walk around the neighborhood. Their presence would act as a deterrent, Saucier said.
Residents who called into the meeting said they were concerned the technology would reinforce racial biases in policing that has been documented nationwide, and said studies on the use of the technology have been inconclusive.
Saucier said the “artificial intelligence” the technology uses is not the type that relies on personal information or criminal histories of individuals – it would only forecast where a crime was likely to occur, based on the department’s own data.
Augustus said he viewed the technology as a common-sense way to do a better job at community policing.
“When we say neighbors want foot beats, or patrols, because they’re experiencing some level of crime – we’re talking about having data that reinforces that,” Augustus said.
Councilors said they had no issue with expanding the existing
Councilors said some neighborhoods have been asking for coverage for years, and more generally, many neighborhood groups and crime watches consistently say they would like to see more police presence, not less.
But District 3 Councilor
District 1 Councilor
He said it would be prudent for the possible embrace of a new technology to be more of a public conversation.
District 4 Councilor
District 2 Councilor
Wally said he wanted to make sure the council gets updates on the progress of the program. As a subscription-based program, at-large Councilor
At-large Councilor Khrystian King said the item before the council Tuesday had no public process – no subcommittee hearing, no community meetings, no further vetting. He said when the city is considering using automated predictions to inform policing, it needs to make sure all stakeholders understand how it works. He said the vendor should be subject to oversight. He said he has concerns about how effective the new technology is, and said he has heard concerns about removing a certain level of the “human element” of policing that the city is at the same time trying to improve through training, diversifying the force, and other initiatives.
Rivera and King abstained from voting on the funding component on the existing
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