Chicago to Expand Decision Support Centers for Police

While the city of Chicago as a whole continues to see a spike in the number of shootings and homicides so far this year, those numbers, for a brief time, were actually dropping in one of the city’s most violent areas.

“In the first week of February, the 7th District went eight days without a shooting incident,” said Supt. Eddie Johnson. “That is the longest time in almost three years where not a shot was fired in one of our most dangerous areas.”

Officials attribute the unexpected dip to new decision support centers, which use technologies including shot spotters, gunfire detection and Hunchlab predictive software to give officers on city streets real-time information about shootings in the area.

“[The technology is] on officers’ smartphones, so literally in the hands of the officers,” said Dept. Chief John Lewin. “So it provides faster notification, several minutes faster than the first citizen to call 911, more accurate location information, which allows us to recover ballistics information and clear cases.”

The city plans to expand the decision centers from the 7th and 11th districts to the 9th and 15th, covering four of the five areas with the most reports of violence.

“We have seen promising signs that by utilizing this technology to make us more productive on our deployments and faster response times is helping reduce the violence in those areas,” Johnson said.

But the technology doesn’t come cheap. Each center costs the city about $1.5 million.

Still, Chicago police say they see them as investments, not expenses.

“It’s the integration of the process,” Lewin said. “All the technologies into a situational awareness tool we never had before.”

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