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Newark is installing gunshot detectors on mostly Black schools as city shootings rise


Patrick Wall/Chalkbeat Newark is equipping more than 30 school buildings with ShotSpotter devices, which detect the sound of outdoor gunfire and alert police. As Newark confronts a surge in shootings and homicides, the city is outfitting more than 30 school buildings in mostly Black neighborhoods with controversial devices that can report nearby gunfire.

The devices are components of a system that uses audio sensors to detect outdoor gunshots and notify the police. The manufacturer, ShotSpotter, says the system provides police with faster alerts and better gunshot data than 911 calls do.

But some critics question the technology’s usefulness, citing studies that find the devices drive up gunfire notifications but rarely lead to arrests. Advocates have also raised civil rights concerns , saying ShotSpotter sensors draw armed police into primarily Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in pursuit of shooters who are rarely apprehended .

The city of Newark has used ShotSpotter’s technology for more than a decade. Now, as the city expands the system by installing the devices on school exteriors, a Chalkbeat analysis found that most of the impacted residents are Black.

Thirty of the 34 Newark buildings getting gunshot detectors are in majority Black ZIP codes, the analysis found. And nearly 70% of […]

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