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View other events for the week of 11/ 5/2014
OPD ShotSpotter Contract Extension and System Expansion
Date Wednesday November 05
Time 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Location Details
City of Oakland Council meeting
City Hall
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA
Event Type Other
Organizer/Author
agenda: https://oakland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=348321&GUID=29F9E095-E31B-4E4C-9FB2-40DB65301024

7.27 ShotSpotter Contract Extension and System Expansion
From: Oakland Police Department
Recommendation: Adopt A Resolution Authorizing The City Administrator Or Designee To Enter Into An Agreement With SST, Inc. To: 1) Expand The ShotSpotter Coverage Area (Phase III), In An Amount Not To Exceed $146,600.00; 2) Extend Coverage For The Period Of October 21, 2014 To April 18, 2015 (Phase I), In A Pro-Rated Amount Not To Exceed $41,425.00, With An Option To Renew For Two Additional One-Year Terms At A Cost Of $84,000.00 Annually, For A Total Contract Amount Not To Exceed $356,025.00; And 3) Waiving The Competitive Request For Proposal / Qualifications (RFP/Q) Process, The Advertising And Bidding Requirements, And Local And Small Local Business (L/SLB) Enterprise Program Provisions For The Contracts With SST, Inc.
Report: https://oakland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=3290849&GUID=51D51387-1812-4DDB-9B40-14822A92B448

The October 28, 2014 Public Safety Committee approved recommendations with a vote of 3 Ayes, 1 Absent - Gibson McElhaney.


McElhaney left after the first 2-1/2 hours. Twice the council members on this committee reshuffled the 10 agenda items leaving arguably the most onerous to the end. I had to leave at the 3 hour mark and they were still some distance from reaching the final item. KTOP has yet to archive access to the video so I don’t know what if anything was said. I do know the mayor and the council only gave in to limitation of the Domain Awareness Center to the port because of the public outcry. Almost all have publicly stated they will gradually increase the surveillance capacity of the city.

Shotspotter is one of those things that is “sold” to an unsuspecting public as a “public safety” item. A cheap way of overcoming a supposed shortfall in police staffing. It’s really about surveillance. The OPD’s own report states: “The communities most affected by gunfire are least likely to call it in.” They know people can possess even the limited intelligence to know right and wrong. People can see how calling the militarized police will bring armored personnel arriving in armored vehicles and will often result in the shooting and death of people in those communities who might now realize they made a mistake by taking that route. This type of robotic system does not make that choice and that’s exactly what the powers that be want.

This is really about pork. In a given Tuesday’s battery of council committee meetings one can see at least one if not two or three “Waiving The Competitive Request For Proposal” statement. The same applies here though goes even further: “Waiving The Competitive Request For Proposal / Qualifications (RFP/Q) Process, The Advertising And Bidding Requirements, And Local And Small Local Business (L/SLB) Enterprise Program Provisions For The Contracts With SST, Inc.” This is how it works. As a business you market/cajole/cheat/whatever to get the government to buy whatever it is you are selling. If it’s untested, too controversial or is too expensive, the parties might agree to a Phase I so the excuse can be made this is for verification that something works, etc. Then possibly with some struggle and continued misdirection one can get a Phase II and repeat again for a Phase III just like this situation. Unfortunately for the residents of Oakland, the equipment is purchased by the city and is proprietary – it can’t be adopted and used by a different company even if they wanted to.

Do understand there are competitors to SST’s Shotspotter and while they are also morally offensive surveillance systems, they supposedly are a little better. Many cities have dropped Shotspotter due to it’s lack of specificity – it picks up everything creating a trail of many false-positives. The chief of police has even stated in a relatively recent article that he doesn’t want money wasted on it.

The city pays for the microphone enclosures and the installation and upkeep while the information travels to an SST facility elsewhere in the state for processing. Between robotic analytics and humans, a determination is made on what was heard and this is then reported back to the police department. The microphones have to be sensitive and essentially have to be on at all times so they can be triggered. They have two zones of effectiveness: a near-field circular area with a radius twice the depth of a baseball field and a far-field zone with a circular area up to a mile in radius. The longer distance is more for the placement of sounds by triangulation but it gives one a feeling for the sensitivity of the microphones. Now imagine you are standing the depth of a baseball field away from one of these mics and you are having a rollicking conversation with a neighbor. To accentuate a humorous situation you clap your hands. This would trigger the microphone (it’s already on) and it would send a signal to elsewhere and would start recording for future analysis. The same thing could be said for a car or house door being slammed shut. One should also know that the system is designed for integration with other systems like surveillance cameras, police department total awareness systems (to whatever degree that might be) and unmanned arial aircraft – drones. It’s purpose is to do what they know human’s might not want to do – report on their neighbors and risk the death of members of their community by overzealous police officers. Remember, the mics can be turned on on command.

With that in mind take a look at the link for the report. Scroll down to the map of Oakland. You’ll see that all of the residential flat lands in East and West/North Oakland are already covered by this system. These are the locations of most density per square mile, the most poverty and the greatest amount of people of color. Those were Phase I and II. Take a look at the supposed “shot” locations. Not really that many considering the time frame of collection and these do not correspond to either physical injury or deaths of people. Firecrackers, fireworks, heavy rain, cars backfiring, etc. can trigger these mics. The OPD was proud to say they used this system to go after revelers around the 4th of July celebrations. Phase III is the missing flat-land area: Jack London Square, the central business/government area and the adjacent residential areas. How many shots do you suppose happen in these areas? Not many. These areas are already covered by multiple private security forces, OPD, the county sheriff, BART police, state CHP, federal “police” around various federation-of-state buildings, etc. Another thing the downtown area has in abundance is private security cameras. The OPD has been organizing these cameras into a larger collection usage. See the note above about security camera coordination. The central business/governmental district is the area most prone to mass influence by protestors. What if you knew you would be catalogued through facial-recognition software and could have everything you said recorded; if you weren’t entirely concrete in your understanding of the social dynamics, might you be influenced to just stay at home and not risk it?

Phase III will increase the surveillance area to over 27% of the land area of Oakland. The end game is control. The businesses, police and “elected” representatives want to expand the collection abilities of the Department of Homeland Security’s DAC throughout the city. What they really mean by that is the areas to be already covered by Phase I, II and III of Shotspotter: the poorer, colored, densest residential areas. They already know what you do at work, while you are on your computer and personal surveillance device, while you are driving in your recent model automobile. What they don’t know is what you might be talking about when you are in your backyard on your own property talking with your acquaintances.

Contact your elected representatives and let them know you don’t want the money wasted on this. Better yet, show up in person at the Wednesday council meeting. They care so little about your rights, they’ve placed this on the consent portion of the meeting. Even if you think in theory the police provide a worthwhile service, tell your elected representatives you want the money redirected to solving crimes, not harassing protestors and harassing holiday revelers. The OPD makes very little attempt at solving crimes. They don’t want to. It’s easier to kill a suspect than jail them. It’s easier to go after petty crimes. Crimes that someone poor won’t be able to fight and yet it might be something that might get them thrown in jail or have their property confiscated and sold for police benefit.
Added to the calendar on Monday Nov 3rd, 2014 3:51 PM

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