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Peoria City Council will consider renewing ShotSpotter contract

 ShotSpotter Director of Community Engagement Paul John shares details about the company's "Data for Good" initiative at the March meeting of the Peoria Safety Network.
Collin Schopp
Paul John, ShotSpotter director of community engagement, shares details about the company's "Data for Good" initiative at the March meeting of the Peoria Safety Network.

The Peoria City Council is considering whether the city should renew its contract with the California-based gunshot locator company, ShotSpotter.

The city originally entered a three year, $405,000 contract with ShotSpotter in 2013 to cover an area of roughly three square miles with acoustic sensors that activate when noises of a certain decibel level occur near them. The sensors transmit the audio to a 24/7 review team employed by ShotSpotter that provides local law enforcement with the data.

Peoria Mayor Rita Ali said the company will give a presentation on the program to the city council before the contract renewal appears on a council agenda in April.

“So that will allow the general public to be more aware of what ShotSpotter is and how it works in Peoria,” she said.

There’s no specific date for the presentation.

Renewing the contract also could mean expanding the radius covered by ShotSpotter’s sensors. The area doubled after a council decision in 2015 — from three square miles to six. The current ShotSpotter coverage area includes large portions of southern, central and eastern Peoria.

Ali said the company is currently consulting with the Peoria Police Department to determine if an additional expansion is necessary.

“It looks like we're looking to possibly expand by about a mile in a certain direction,” she said. And just, you know, just collect and review, evaluate the information that's been collected over the past year.”

Another potential change is the company’s "Data for Good” initiative. Alfred Lewers Jr., senior director of trauma response and customer success at ShotSpotter, said the initiative involves a team of professionals assembled by ShotSpotter. They share collected data with community stakeholders, like hospitals, schools and nonprofits, to help them use their resources effectively to prevent gun violence.

“ShotSpotter has more gunshot data than any other entity in the United States related to days of the week, hours of the day and repeat gunfire locations,” said Lewers. “We've realized that there needs to be done to use that data with key stakeholders to bring resources to bear to take a more holistic approach to addressing the root causes of problems and communities.”

Peoria Police Department crime analyst Jacob Moushon said this will include a community dashboard with some additional information under a “ShotSpotter” tab on the department’s website. He said that could be implemented as early as the week of March 13, though no specific date is set.

“We were really excited about 'Data for Good' because you know, Safety Network really has talked about a similar tool that is using technology to help to inform where crime is taking place, especially gunfire” said Ali. “What tools we can use to wrap supports around those households or those areas, those neighborhoods that have experienced high crime.”

Lewers said “Data for Good” is an additional service ShotSpotter provides to contracted cities at no additional cost.

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Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.