Durham City Council looks to extend ShotSpotter contract, draws support from community

Akilah Davis Image
Friday, December 8, 2023
Durham City Council looks to extend ShotSpotter contract
Durham's contract with ShotSpotter is set to expire next Thursday, but the city council met to discuss extending the deal.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The City of Durham's contract with ShotSpotter is set to expire next Thursday, but the city council met during its work session to discuss extending the deal.

Resident Aasim Inshirah brought a bag of shell casings he's collected in his neighborhood to the meeting to show council members how often shots are fired in his community.

"These are shells I picked up. I walk on a regular basis. I'd like to get you up close to them if you don't mind," he said. "I'm not looking for shells. They are on the sidewalk and curb."

He lives three blocks from North Carolina Central University and supports the technology. He wonders whether it is worth spending money on if evidence is being missed.

"When they get ShotSpotter alerts, they're required to pick up casings. Each one of those casings could have been evidence, but they weren't picked up," said Inshirah.

According to data from the Durham Police Department, the technology has a 95% effective rate. It has published 1,383 alerts. On average, it takes officers five minutes to arrive on a scene the moment the technology detects gunshots. It has led to 21 guns recovered, 22 arrests, and 1,446 shell casings collected at scenes.

Another resident, Manju Rajendran, called into the work session and told the council that people living in the community where ShotSpotter is installed would prefer violence prevention programs instead of the technology.

"Youth programs. They're talking about education, better lighting, and community centers," she said,

The police department asked for this three-month extension of the gunshot detection technology while the data for the first year was analyzed.

"It would be less disruptive to the emergency services and also more consistent for the public who has become accustomed to the ShotSpotter technology in this pilot area to continue the service while that happened," a spokesman for DPD told the council.

The three-month contract extension will cost $52,356. It's a price another resident who was recently caught in a crossfire said is worth it.

"I didn't have time to call 911. When Durham police showed up, it was a relief that they showed up and take over the scene. So yes, it is effective. We must give it another try," he said.

City council will take action by voting on extending the contract at the next regular meeting on Dec. 18. Members expect it to pass.