Durham councilman says city is ‘one step closer’ to using technology that detects gunfire location

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As the number of shootings continue to rise in the Bull City, a Durham city leader is pushing for city leaders to implement a type of technology that he said will speed up police response to the scene.

Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton has been advocating to implement “shot spotter” technology for a while. The technology detects the location of gunfire through a sensor.

On Thursday afternoon during the Durham City Council work session, Middleton announced that an executive with ShotSpotter contacted him and said the company is willing to do a free six month trial pilot program in Durham.

“This is at no cost and no obligation,” Middleton said. “This will let us see if this technology would serve in going after repeat shooters and potentially saving lives.”

Durham City Council must first vote and approve the program before it can be implemented.

This come as shootings in the Bull City have doubled this summer compared to last summer. As CBS 17 previously reported, there were 77 people shot in Durham from May 1, 2020 – July 17, 2020.

In 2019, 38 people had been shot from May 1, 2019 – July 31, 2019.

Baron Martin lives in Cornwallis Road Apartments in Durham where there have been recent shootings.

“It could be a party one minute, and the next thing it’s 60 gunshots going off,” Martin said. “You never know when anything may happen.”

It was at Cornwallis Road Apartments where 12-year-old Tyvien McLean was shot and killed when a stay bullet went through his apartment and struck him in the head last month.

“It was very devastating,” Martin said. “It makes you realize it can happen to anyone.”

He said that he thinks ShotSpotter would help bring down crime in the community.

“Sometimes it’s just people shooting in the air or something, but sometimes it’s something serious,” McLean said. “Just to be safe, I think it would be a good idea.”

Goldsboro Police have used ShotSpotter since 2016. Police told CBS 17 that it has allowed them to get to the scene as quickly as one minute after the shooting and sometimes they get there when the suspect is still on scene.

Goldsboro Police officials said they have seen violent crime go down as a result.

Durham city leaders said during Thursday’s meeting that they will further discuss the ShotSpotter pilot program and vote on it at a later date.

If the city of Durham decided to purchase shot spotter later on, Middleton said it would cost $600,000 to install and it would cost the city $170,000 – $200,000 per year.

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