CHICAGO (CBS) — The ShotSpotter system is supposed to help police track gunshots around the city, and our investigators spent months asking if the multimillion-dollar contract for the system would be renewed.
Last week, we learned the contract with ShotSpotter already had been renewed – and almost no one knew it.
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Now, as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Thursday night, some aldermen are planning to make sure such a thing doesn’t happen again.
Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, was supposed to be the day Chicago’s $33 million ShotSpotter contract was supposed to expire. So imagine how surprised aldermen and anti-ShotSpotter activists were when they learned that taxpayer-funded agreement had already been extended – back in December, for another two years.
“It was like, where was this document, and where was the opportunity for public input,” said Alyx Goodwin, a member of the group Defund CPD.
A lot of people at City Hall are asking those same questions.
“We learned about it, or at least I did, from the media,” said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th).
Vasquez, who represents a North Side ward, said that is not how the renewal of a massive contract should be handled – especially a controversial one, like this contract has proven to be.
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“It should have the full debate of how people are viewing it,” Vasquez said.
“That’s par for the course for this administration,” added Ald. Anthony Beale (9th).
Beale, it’s worth noting, has been an outspoken critic of Mayor Light Lightfoot. He is not opposed to ShotSpotter technology – which is supposed to help police track gunshots.
“We need all the tools in the toolbox that we can possibly get,” Beale said.
But he said it is the lack of transparency about the contract’s extension that really bothers him.
“This is another abuse of authority and power of the administration,” Beale said.
When asked earlier this month and again now, a mayoral spokesperson did not say when the updated contract information went online. The spokesperson instead directed us to the city’s procurement page for contract details.
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So what now? Ald. Beale said he and others are working on an ordinance that would require the renewal or extension of any city contract over $1 million to come before the City Council for discussion first. He said to expect that ordinance to be introduced at the City Council meeting next month.