Slinging a smooth stone

A bullet with a name on it may also have an address

C.F. David, Editor
The Boise City News

According to an April 7 Chicago Sun-Times story by Fran Spielman, by late summer the Chicago Police Department will often be able to pinpoint within 20 feet from where a gunshot originated.

The gunshot triangulation technology is being added to cameras already in place in some of Chicago's high crime areas.

According to its hype, within five seconds of a gunshot being fired near a microphone, the technology can provide an address within 20 feet of the incident and an automatic 911 will be given.

Reportedly, the devices will be able to separate the sound of fire arms from fireworks, by measuring the decibel level of a bullet traveling through air at high speed.

However, according to Spielman's article, Deputy Chief Ron Huberman attempts to assure the public that the new technology isn't “Big Brother.” Huberman is quoted as saying the microphones cannot record or pick up audio along public streets.

In her article, Spielman states that the 30 cameras, (with bulletproof lens in place) were installed last summer and in the first seven months after, calls for police service dropped by 44 percent.

Calls for police service due to narcotics are down 76 percent, and serious crimes (murder, rape, etc. I assume ) have dropped by 17 percent.

In comparison, the arrests for narcotics in those same neighborhoods has risen by 61 percent; and according to those living there, children once doomed to play indoors are now considered to be safe playing near the streets.

The cameras were mounted at a cost of $750 thousand with forfeited drug money and will be joined by the $2.8 million “sound system” also financed with money and property seized from criminals.

There is something ironic in the fact that drug money is being used to make the streets of Chicago safer; since just over 70 years ago the Chicago police were renowned for “being on the pad” to criminals like Al Capone.

Though I like the apparent crime reduction brought about by the camera's watchful eye, I am still concerned that they, and the microphones, can at some time in the future lead to abuse of power by police intervention. As we try to “combat” crime and terrorism we must always be vigilant that we don't make ourselves victims of a police state.

The word for the week is ardent.