‘Ready for some help?’: how a controversial technology firm courted Portland police

  • May 3, 2023
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SoundThinking, a gunshot detection company, worked with top police officials to secure a city contract, according to emails obtained by the Guardian

On 5 February 2022, police in Portland, Oregon, sent out a bulletin pleading with the public for information about a recent homicide case. Police had found Corey M Eady injured with several gunshot wounds, and the 44-year-old had died shortly after being taken to a hospital. “This is the 11th homicide in Portland this year,” the bulletin read. “All 11 have been by gunfire.”

The next day, Portland police captain James Crooker got a text. “Ready for some help?”

Shotspotter marketed itself aggressively to Portland police by tapping its vast network of law enforcement partners and supporters – some of whom now work at the company – to vouch for or advocate for the service.

The company backed up claims it is a noninstrusive and effective public safety tool with academic studies, some of which it funded or helped set up.

Once Portland police was on board, the company worked closely with Crooker, the Portland police captain, to win over a volunteer-led police oversight group, Fitcog, which recommended the use of Shotspotter devices to the mayor, Ted Wheeler.

Greene, the representative, also helped Crooker prepare for media interviews and even offered the company’s services to help the city apply for federal grants to fund a contract.

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