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Toronto police won't implement controversial ShotSpotter tech

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Mayor John Tory are seen at a news conference at police headquarters in Toronto on April 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Toronto police have announced they are giving up on plans to implement a controversial technology aimed at combating gun crime.

The ShotSpotter uses microphones placed around the city to pinpoint the origin of a gunshot once a bullet is fired.

Police voted to implement the technology, but are now backing off after some city councillors raised concerns over privacy issues.

One of the main concerns was if the microphones would be recording all the time and potentially record the private conversations of the general public.

Mayor John Tory said police have made the right decision in putting the project on the shelf.

“The ShotSpotter technology was certainly thought of as being one more of those tools — and I think the chief believed in it enough to come forward and ask us for it — but in this case he’s the same one that has said we shouldn’t proceed just now because there are these (privacy) concerns,” he said.

However, Tory said that maybe in the future police could return to the discussion about the ShotSpotter after the concerns are addressed.

The mayor added that despite the change, he knows Toronto police are moving “full speed ahead” in the fight against gun violence in the city.

Toronto had a record 96 homicides last year — 51 of which were gun-related.