'They are asking for solutions': Durham city leaders host public forum amid ShotSpotter concerns

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Sunday, October 9, 2022
Durham officials hold public forum amid ShotSpotter concerns
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Durham officials hold public forum amid ShotSpotter concerns

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Police and ShotSpotter representatives held another public forum on Saturday at the Lyon Park Community and Recreation Center.

The latest one in a series of several community forums was held to answer questions and address community concerns about ShotSpotter, the controversial technology which has been delayed until mid-November.

Saturday's forum comes amid a fatal shooting Friday night in Durham where a woman was shot and killed.

The uptick in gun violence is an ongoing concern that council member Leonardo Williams addressed as he was preparing for an upcoming funeral for a gun violence victim.

"Ask the families that are losing people on the daily," Williams said. "Ask them how urgent it is. They are really asking for solutions, they're asking to get something in place, now."

Durham city council OKs 1-year contract for ShotSpotter

While the technology has raised privacy concerns for some, others said it's a tool to make streets safer with sensors that could detect gunshots in real-time.

Durham resident Jahquel Pullen compared it to surveillance in his residential area.

"My apartment complex has a lot of cameras, and I feel like that makes me feel a lot safer," Pullen said.

The technology would also help Durham Police with "an increase in violent crime," according to Chief Patrice Andrews.

"Officers are not swarming into the area now, and they're not going to swarm into the area when there's a ShotSpotter alert," Andrews told the City Council in September. "Now, if there's an alert saying there's multiple sounds going off at the same time in the same area that would be an elevated, so we'd want to definitely send more than two officers to the area. The officer's responsibility once they arrive on scene is to make sure there's no one that's down ... and then we want to be able to search for evidence legally."

There's at least two more upcoming community forums on ShotSpotter, according to the City of Durham.

Williams encouraged those who have questions or concerns to engage with the community and have these conversations in-person at the events.

"This is not the one all solve all," Williams said. "This is simply a part of supplemental resources to create a safer and more reactive, more responsive public safety methodology."