Durham nears one year using ShotSpotter technology; Bull City called a 'model' for its use

Akilah Davis Image
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
ShotSpotter technology nears one year of  use in Durham
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The manner in which the Bull City has integrated ShotSpotter is being touted as a model, according to Durham Leadership.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The manner in which the Bull City has integrated ShotSpotter is being touted as a model, according to Durham Leadership.

It's been almost one year since the technology was implemented in Durham.

"I'll be in Atlanta later this week talking to my peers across the country at the National League of Cities talking about how we've successfully engaged around the technology and how they might be able to learn from what we've done," said Mayor Pro Temp Mark-Anthony Middleton. "There have been people we found who were shot and there was no corresponding 911 call. We got to the hospital and their lives were preserved. For those families the technology is priceless."

Middleton told ABC11 that the response time to ShotSpotter calls is better than the response time to 911 calls.

Wellons Village is one of several communities that have the technology. Alma Acosta works in the Village Plaza and believes it's needed there because of the ongoing crime. It's also why she stopped bringing her 5-year-old daughter Ivy to work with her.

"There was an incident where a person was shot right in front of the store, which is very scary obviously," she said. "Multiple incidents over here. Sirens are very close. People getting shot by Subway."

Five people were injured after a New Year's Day drive-by shooting outside the Subway in the Village Plaza, which is just a few doors down from where she works. Police told ABC11 then that the technology didn't detect the shooting, which led to questions about the technology's overall effectiveness.

Durham Police released this statement to WTVD:

The Durham Police Department is dedicated to finding innovative technology in order to make the City of Durham a safe place. Since the launch of the ShotSpotter pilot program on December 15, 2022, we have continued to gather data to measure the effectiveness of the gunshot detection technology. The primary metrics we are measuring include response times to the sound of shots calls, the number of arrests made, the number of guns seized, and whether lives have been saved. Since ShotSpotter has not hit a full year yet, at this time we are unable to provide year-to-date data for particular beats or neighborhoods. We do post monthly gunfire reports from ShotSpotter on our website that break down the top beats and address block numbers where ShotSpotter alerts have been activated. We encourage community members to check our ShotSpotter dashboard for the latest data as we are committed to transparency. Chief Andrews is not available for an interview today. She will discuss ShotSpotter during the 3rd Quarter Crime Report presentation before Durham City Council on Tuesday, November 21st.

According to the City of Durham, data show Shotspotter's performance rate sits at 84 percent for publishing alerts within 60 seconds of detecting gunfire. It's led police to 41 gunshot wounds, 20 guns recovered, 22 arrests and 1370 shell casings collected and used for evidence.

There has been a total of 1279 ShotSpotter alerts published over the last year. The numbers showed that 40 incidents were incorrectly classified as gunfire. There were another 15 incidents classified as something else when it was gunfire.

While many residents are hearing the gunshots, they aren't calling the police.

Those living and working in Wellons Village like Acosta are happy to hear the technology is yielding results.

"Now I have somewhat more of a piece of mind," she said.