This story originally published online at NC Policy Watch.
This weekend the City of Durham will host the first of at least four community forums on the use of ShotSpotter technology to reduce crime.
ShotSpotter is a controversial tool used by police departments across the country to reduce gun violence. Sensors alert police when guns are fired, helping them respond faster. Microphones will be placed in a three-square-mile radius in Durham for the one-year pilot program. The first three months will be free. The next nine will cost $197,500.
The ShotSpotter website argues that the sensors give the police valuable data on how to manage their limited resources to deter crime and reduce violence. Critics, meanwhile, contend that the technology is often deployed in communities of color, which are already over-policed, and that the program’s effectiveness is unknown and hasn’t been peer-reviewed.
Others have found serious issues with using ShotSpotter evidence in court, suggesting that innocent people can be sent to prison because of faulty technology or human bias overriding the gunshot detection algorithm.
The Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department chose not to renew its ShotSpotters contract in 2016, stating that the results did not justify the cost.
ShotSpotter is projected to go live in Durham on Nov. 15, joining other North Carolina cities like Fayetteville, Goldsboro and Winston-Salem that use the technology. Durham officials will hold several community forums on the technology before then, beginning this Saturday, Sept. 10, at 10:30 am at Camps Hills Recreation Center.
Per the city website, the community forums are scheduled for:
• DISTRICT 1 PAC– TBD
• DISTRICT 2 PAC– September 12, 2022 @ 6:00PM, Edison Johnson Recreation Center, 500 W. Murray, Durham, NC 27704
• DISTRICT 3 PAC– October 8, 2022 @ 9:30AM, Lyon Park Community & Recreation Center 1309 Halley Street, Durham, NC 27707
• DISTRICT 4 & 5 PAC– September 10, 2022 @ 10:30AM, Campus Hills Recreation Center, 2000 South Alston Avenue, Durham, NC 27701
• MCDOUGALD TERRACE COMMUNITY– September 16, 2022 @ 2:00PM, Location TBD
• DURHAM BUSINESSES AGAINST CRIME (BAC)– TBD
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