Johnson declines to renew ShotSpotter

In our February 1 issue, we published the results of our months-long investigation of ShotSpotter, the controversial gunshot-detection company that has thousands of microphones in more than half of the city’s police districts. Our reporting revealed that internal company emails showed an official at the Office of Public Safety Administration complained to ShotSpotter about missing a fifty-five-round shooting in December 2022, and we obtained data from the Chicago Police Department showing it reported that ShotSpotter missed hundreds of reported shootings last year. We also uncovered ShotSpotter’s efforts to lobby Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office to renew the contract. 

Apparently, those efforts fell short. On Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office confirmed earlier reporting by the Sun-Times that Johnson will not renew the city’s contract with ShotSpotter. Chicago will continue using ShotSpotter until September 22, according to a press release issued by the Mayor’s Office. The statement said the city “will deploy its resources on the most effective strategies and tactics” to reduce violent crime. The long-anticipated announcement is the culmination of a campaign promise by Johnson to cancel the contract, which was made possible only by years of organizing by activists with the Stop ShotSpotter campaign, which responded to the news by lauding the decision and promising to “continue organizing for a Chicago that invests in its people.”

South Side Grammy winners 

South Side Chicago made a splash at the 66th Annual Grammy awards February 4. Two local artists took home awards. Poet, author and South Side native J. Ivy won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Poetry Album for his album The Light Inside, his third overall. As sitting president for the Chicago Chapter of the Recording Academy and National Trustee, Ivy was seminal in creating a spoken-word poetry award category which debuted at last year’s awards, expanding the category to now be R&B, Rap & Spoken Word Poetry. Ivy won two awards at last year’s Grammys for his work on the gospel album The Urban Hymnal and winning the first Best Spoken Word Poetry Album award for his album The Poet Who Sat By The Door.

Rapper and fellow South Sider Lil Durk won the Best Melodic Rap Performance Grammy for his multi-platinum single “All My Life,” featuring J. Cole. This is Durk’s first Grammy win and Cole’s second. In the single, the Englewood rapper speaks on his roots and the scrutiny he has faced in public life. The song’s chorus, which features a youth choir, was considered by many as a departure from Durk’s roots in drill music.

Mass layoffs in healthcare 

RUSH University Medical Center and University of Chicago Medical Center announced layoffs at the start of the month. While the number of employees impacted at RUSH was not disclosed, in a statement UChicago Medicine specified that 180 employees were laid off and received severance packages. “This decision was not made lightly or easily but is necessary to position us to deliver on our mission and enhance the quality of care that we provide,” said the UChicago Medicine statement. The employees laid off comprised around two percent of the roughly 13,000 staff at UChicago Medicine and were not “directly patient-facing.” UChicago Medicine cited the layoffs were due to “the same challenges” as other health systems. Further details have not yet been made public.

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