Chicago police unveil controversial new tool to track gun suspects

A new online tool launched by the Chicago Police Department allows the public to look up people who have been arrested on gun charges and whether they have made bail, prompting criticism by civil libertarians, according to The Associated Press.

“If we’re OK with how things are going, then don’t look at it,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said of the Gun Offender Dashboard. “But if you want to know why we are suffering from some of the things we are, then take a look at it and come to your own conclusions.”

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Critics of the program argue that it convicts people pre-trial and will lead users to conflate people arrested merely for carrying weapons with those who have threatened or shot people with them, according to the AP.

“The people on this list have not been convicted of the crimes for which they were charged,” Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli said in a written statement, according to the AP. “Yet CPD is flaunting bond court stats as if they have already been convicted.”

Critics have also pointed out that the name, the Gun Offender Dashboard, assigns implicit guilt pre-conviction.

“These are not offenders, they’re arrestees,” Stephanie Kollman, policy director of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University’s law school, told the AP.

Johnson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) have argued that a recent policy requiring judges to set affordable bail for people not deemed dangerous to the community could put the public at risk from offenders caught with guns who are bailed out for a few hundred dollars or less.

In a recent press briefing, Lightfoot pointed out that the data in the dashboard is already publicly available.

In the meantime, shootings in the Windy City have reached a four-year low, with 1,210 shootings and 282 homicides in the first seven months of the year after 1,363 shootings and 321 homicides in the same period last year.