Toronto police abandon plan for gunshot detection technology, chief confirms
Published Thursday, February 14, 2019 10:07AM EST Last Updated Thursday, February 14, 2019 1:00PM EST
The Toronto Police Service will not be moving forward with implementing new gunshot-detection technology ShotSpotter due to legal concerns, Police Chief Mark Saunders confirms.
Last summer, city council voted in favour of investigating whether to implement the technology in Toronto but in an interview with CP24 on Thursday, Saunders confirmed that he has opted to shelve ShotSpotter for now.
ShotSpotter, which has been utilized by police departments in Chicago, Denver, and New York, uses microphones to triangulate sound waves to help officers accurately detect the location of where gunshots were fired.
Saunders said that data collected by cities that have used ShotSpotter found that about 70 per cent of shooting occurrences were not being reported to police.
“We saw the value in that technology to see how we could keep our communities safe,” Saunders said.
But after consulting with a team at the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Office, Saunders said legal issues surfaced.
“They looked at it and said that there is a likelihood that it would compromise Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which talks about unreasonable search and seizure,” Saunders said.
“Airing on the side of caution, we felt the best thing to do was not to have it. There are opportunities that say if the technology changes, we could certainly revisit that.”
Speaking at a news conference last summer, Mayor John Tory was a strong proponent for the technology, suggesting that ShotSpotter could help officers get to shooting scenes faster and collect more evidence, resulting in more arrests.
Don Peat, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said police had “advocated” for the technology and Tory was “supportive of that request.”
“Both the police board and city council, the mayor included, voted last year to make sure police investigate and report back on oversight, legal, and privacy issues. There had also been a commitment to consult the public before moving forward as well,” Peat said in an email to CP24.
“The Mayor appreciates that police have looked into this technology and, based on that work, have now come to this conclusion.”