CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago will not renew its contract with ShotSpotter and plans to stop using the controversial gunshot detection system later this year, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office announced Tuesday.

The system, which relies on an artificial intelligence algorithm and a network of microphones to identify gunshots, has been criticized for inaccuracy, racial bias and misuse by law enforcement. An Associated Press investigation into the technology, which is used in about 140 cities, detailed how a Chicago man was jailed for scant evidence generated by ShotSpotter and then released for insufficient evidence.

Chicago’s $49 million contract with SoundThinking, a public safety technology company, expires Friday. The city plans to stop using ShotSpotter technology at the end of September, according to city officials.

“Chicago will deploy its resources on the most effective strategies and tactics proven to accelerate the current downward trend in violent crime,” the city said in a statement. “Doing this work, in consultation with the community, violence prevention organizations and law enforcement, provides a path to a better, stronger and safer Chicago for everyone.”

Johnson’s office said that during the interim period, law enforcement and community safety groups would “evaluate tools and programs that effectively increase both safety and trust” and issue recommendations.

A representative for SoundThinking had no immediate comment Tuesday.

Johnson, a first-term mayor, campaigned on a promise to end the use of ShotSpotter, putting him at odds with police leaders who have praised the system.

They maintain that crime rates – not the race of residents – determine where the technology is deployed.

“Technology is where police as a whole are heading. If we don’t use technology, we will be left behind in the fight against crime,” Police Superintendent Larry Snelling told the AP in an interview in October. “There will always be problems. Nothing is 100% and nothing is going to be perfect.”

Violent crime, including homicides and shootings, has largely declined nationwide to about the same level as before the COVID-19 pandemic, although property crimes have increased in some places. In Chicago, the downward trend in violent crime has continued into early 2024 with a 30% drop in homicides. There were 39 as of last week compared to 56 during the same period last year.

Chicago police declined to comment Tuesday and directed questions to the mayor’s office.

Community public safety groups argued that the system sends police officers into predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods for often unnecessary and hostile encounters. Problems with accuracy, such as when the technology has mistakenly identified fireworks or motorcycle sounds as gunshots, have led cities such as Charlotte, North Carolina, and San Antonio, Texas, to terminate their contracts with ShotSpotter.

The Stop ShotSpotter Coalition praised the announcement but said Chicago should stop using the technology sooner.

“Victims, survivors, their families and communities with the highest rates of gun violence deserve more tangible support, resources and solutions that have been lost due to investments in surveillance and technology that do not prevent or reduce violence,” said the coalition in a statement on Tuesday.

By Sam