The Pirate Party stridently objects to the Worcester ShotSpotter Connect deal. Since the first dishonest public meeting, this whole project has been forced onto the public through a coordinated effort between police administrators and their union, acting to rally public support through their proxies in the dishonestly named “neighborhood safety” groups. Our primary complaints are as follows:
- The police did not have the authority to sign any contracts with ShotSpotter in December (https://www.masslive.com/worcester/2021/03/worcester-police-signed-shotspotter-contract-which-includes-predictive-policing-a-month-before-it-reached-city-council-chambers-for-approval.html). This entire public disaster was instigated by the police seizing authority from the weak and incompetent city council;
- Councilor Toomey promised answers to questions raised at multiple public information sessions. These questions were never recorded and no answers were ever given. Councilor Toomey knew she was acting dishonestly and should retire immediately;
- Multiple officials from ShotSpotter used these public information sessions as a sales pitch, repeatedly misrepresenting the endorsement of the NYU Policing Project Privacy Audit among other dishonesties. At no point did ShotSpotter indicate that they have accounted for the biases inherent in their flawed algorithms, nor did they ever intend to;
- At every step in this process, the police chief and his representatives have acted like corporate cheerleaders, shielding the ShotSpotter company from well-deserved public criticism. They do not respect the people of the city they patrol, and they are looking at this tool as an excuse to whitewash their racialized abuse;
- ShotSpotter Connect, and all predictive policing technology, does not work. It is sold to credulous fools whose understanding of technology has been soured by mass market entertainment. This program will run nearly one million dollars over three years, and every single one of those dollars is stolen from a social safety net which could actually prevent crime.
In short, this is an act of treachery by the police, and the council’s decision to fund it anyway sets the stage for greater power grabs by an already unaccountable gang.