ShotSpotter release delayed in Durham; residents remain skeptical

Elaina Athans Image
Thursday, August 25, 2022
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The controversial technology ShotSpotter, which has raised privacy concerns among some, is being delayed in Durham. It's not expected to go live until mid-November.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The controversial technology ShotSpotter, which has raised privacy concerns among some, is being delayed in Durham. It's not expected to go live until mid-November.

The City of Durham and the Durham Police Department said the delay is out of their control but that staffers are moving forward with preparations for implementation.

Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews sent a letter to the Durham City Council last week saying the technology will help with "an increase in violent crime."

The technology was supposed to go live in September.

"It's a waste of money, period," said Durham resident Arnold Mintz.

Mintz narrowly missed being seriously injured nearly two weeks ago when shots rang out at Liberty Street and Alston Avenue.

"Ten bullets went over my back," said Mintz.

His car was riddled with bullets.

Mintz doesn't have confidence the new technology is going to do much to curb violence in Durham.

"It's still going to be the same," he said. "By the time police get there, too late."

ShotSpotter is a series of sensors placed in a community that can detect when gunshots are fired.

Officers can then be alerted and deployed to a scene more quickly than if they wait for a 911 call.

"ShotSpotter is that shiny object that's gotten all of the attention," said Mayor Pro Tem Mark-Anthony Middleton. "(It's not) going to be the end-all-be-all of gun violence."

Middleton said it can be a great tool, especially when it comes to rendering life-saving help to victims, but he feels more needs initiatives need to be built up around it.

"Expansion of violence interruption, having other tools like unarmed mental health responders, which I was the first one to call for in our city. All of those things working in tandem could have an impact," said Middleton.

The Bull City will be the sixth North Carolina city to get the technology.