With Perspective (Incl. "Amnesia File")
Pasadena City Council, No Longer Willing To Accept Increased Shootings, Votes To Deploy ShotSpotter Gunfire Location System (First LA County City To Do So). Long Beach -- Amid Ongoing Shooting Surge -- Is Overdue
Amnesia File: In 2011, Then-LB Councilman/Vice Mayor Robert Garcia Proposed -- And Council Voted -- To Fund ShotSpotter But LBPD Mgm't Refused Deployment And Favored Spending Money For Police Overtime; In 2012, Garcia Reversed Himself, Sided With Mgm't And Moved To Defund ShotSpotter
(Oct. 5, 2021, 3:10 p.m.) -- Last night (Oct. 4), the Pasadena City Council -- no longer willing to accept increased shootings (especially in the city's NW area), voted to deploy the ShotSpotter gunfire location system. The high tech digital system uses strategically placed microphones to triangulate within seconds the location of gunfire. The company says it can distinguish between gunfire and fireworks, immediately sends the digital data to ShotSpotter's HQ which does a quick double-check and within seconds relays it via a telephone app to officers in the field.
Pasadena's police chief strongly recommended deploying ShotSpotter. Pasadena's City Manager urged Council approval. Pasadena's Mayor supported deploying ShotSpotter. A Pasadena police lieutenant delivered a detailed Power Point presentation (which can be viewed in full here.)
Pasadena PD's PPT said ShotSpotter will improve gunfire recognition ("was that gunfire?"), reduce fear of retaliation (reluctance to call), eliminates redundancy (did someone already call 9-1-1?) and countered community resignation (settling for a diminished quality of life.) It said the system provides better information for officers, helps locate and arrest shooting suspect(s), identifies multiple shooters and number of rounds, including the types of weapons (high capacity or fully automatic weapons.)
The Pasadena Council agreed to a three year $640,000 contract with a one year trial period and a report back on the results of deploying ShotSpotter.
Pasadena's police chief proposed using ShotSpotter first in a roughly three mile square area where shootings have been concentrated.
The ACLU and other allied activists opposed deploying ShotSpotter, variously claiming (as they have in opposing other high tech police systems) that it is inaccurate, doesn't prevent or reduce crime and targets "overpoliced" mainly minority populated areas.
Pasadena's city management responded that ShotSpotter is designed to do one thing: quickly identify a shooting location for swift police response.
After a roughly two hour twenty minute discussion, Pasadena Councilmembers voted 7-1 to make their city the first in LA County to deploy ShotSpotter.
[Scroll down for further.]
What about Long Beach? LA County's second largest city -- in which management and electeds claim to be digitally sophisticated -- continues to rely on lat century's primitive procedure. Civilian callers are expected to call and report the gunfire. This ensures some shots likely go unreported. The calling parties and victims may also offer vague, uncertain or inaccurate locations. Meanwhile, the shooter flees to shoot again.
On Oct. 4, 2011, the City Council voted to deploy ShotSpotter. The item was agendized by then-Vice Mayor/CD1 Councilman Robert Garcia and three other Councilmembers (O'Donnell, DeLong and Andrews) and approved without dissent by the full City Council.
But in the year that followed, LB city management (under Pat West during Mayor Bob Foster's tenure) effectively defied LB's policy-setting Council and refused to deploy ShotSpotter.
In response, Vice Mayor Garcia then reversed himself. On November 13, 2012, Councilmembers Garcia and O'Donnell co-agendized an item to defund ShotSpotter and instead spend the $350,000 on LBPD overtime.
Details on these two significant actions follow:
On Oct. 4, 2011, then-Councilman Garcia (joined by Councilmembers O'Donnell, DeLong and Andrews) proposed to allocated uplands oil revenue to fund items including "Shotspotter System: $350,000. The Shotspotter gunshot detection system would be a valuable tool to assist the Police Department in responding to gun incidents and other types of crime."
[The $18.4 million item allocated $3.5 million for Police and Fire Depts. with $2.2 Mil for LBPD overtime, $1 million for courthouse tunnel construction, $650,000 for technology upgrades for patrol cars and security cameras...and $350,000 for "ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection System." Carried 6-3 (after a series of tweaks to other aspects of $18.4 mil uplands oil fund): Yes: Garcia, [Suja] Lowenthal, DeLong, O'Donnell, Andrews and Johnson; No: Schipske, Gabelich and Neal]
...Following a series of stories by LBReport.com on the budgeted but undeployed gunfire location system, on Oct. 25, 2012, LBPD Administration Bureau Chief Braden Phillips provided LBREPORT.com with this status update:
The City of Long Beach remains interested in acquiring a gunfire detection technology. City Management and the Police Department have engaged in exploratory discussions with various vendors who provide the technology to discuss goals and constraints that may factor into the City's decision to invest in a product. These meetings have been invaluable in the search for a system that will be compatible with the City’s sprawling urban environment. At this time, a gunfire detection technology that meets these preliminary objectives does not exist. Long Beach will continue to actively monitor this emerging technology for future use in the City.
The gunfire location technology budgeted at $350,000 by the Council in Oct. 2011 was never deployed.
On Nov. 13, 2012, O'Donnell and Garcia brought an item to defund ShotSpotter and use the $350,000 sum for LBPD overtime. They wrote:
...After analysis by City Management and the LBPD, it has been determined that ShotSpotter's technology does not currently meet the public safety needs of the City. Further, it has been concluded that a gunfire detection technology that is compatible with the City's landscape does not currently exist with any vendor. At this time, the existing funds will not be used to purchase or subscribe to this type of program.
The vote to defund ShotSpotter in favor of LBPD overtime was 7-0 (Yes: Garcia, [Suja] Lowenthal, O'Donnell, Schipske, Johnson, Austin and Neal; Absent: DeLong and Andrews]
In the decade that has passed, including LB's 2020-2021 shooting surge, neither Mayor Garcia and nor any LB policy-setting City Councilmember(s) have agendized restoration of funding to deploy ShotSpotter.
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