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Durham, N.C., ShotSpotter Rollout Delayed by City Council

The Durham City Council has delayed the approval of the final agreement with the gunshot detection company for the second time this month. California-based ShotSpotter is set to begin a year-long pilot with the city.

(TNS) — Durham’s roll-out of ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection service that has divided residents and elected officials, has been pushed back for the second time this month as the company works out the final details of a yearlong pilot.

ShotSpotter’s methodically placed sensors detect the sounds of likely gunshots and help police pinpoint their location.

The sensors will cover 3 square miles in East and Southeast Durham where the city says a third of all gunshot injuries and deaths occur.

The one-year pilot was initially slotted to begin in mid-September. Earlier this month, that was pushed to late September. Now, the city says ShotSpotter isn’t projected to go live until November.

“This was due to a delay by ShotSpotter and out of the control of the City of Durham and the City of Durham Police Department. Despite this delay, internal staff continue to move forward with other areas of implementation preparation,” a police spokesperson emailed Tuesday.

A spokesperson for ShotSpotter declined to comment on the reason for the delay but emailed a statement Tuesday.

“ShotSpotter is working closely with the Durham Police Department to map out the most ambitious, yet realistic project schedule to secure the required permissions for sensor placements and to ensure the required training can be delivered prior to go live,” the statement said.


The California company has sold gunshot surveillance systems to over 120 cities in the last 25 years — including six in North Carolina, with mixed results.

In a contentious 5-2 vote after years of consideration, the City Council authorized the ShotSpotter pilot this summer. The first year will cost $197,500, plus $28,000 for a program to integrate it with the 911 Center, according to the Durham Police Department.

Mayor Pro Tem Mark-Anthony Middleton, who has advocated for the program for years, called ShotSpotter the “most scrutinized pilot we’ve got going on.”

The City Council is expected to vote on a service agreement at its Sept. 19 meeting. Police said the contract took months to finalize.

“(Police Department Attorney Toni) Russ reviewed the agreement at length and requested that several changes be made. ShotSpotter has been aware of those requested changes for several months,” an internal memo dated July 20 said.

As of Aug. 6, Durham police reported investigating 453 shooting incidents so far this year, with 140 people shot. Those numbers marked a decline from the past two years.

But the number of people killed by gunfire — 25 so far this year — has been keeping pace with last year, when there was a record number of homicides since the city began keeping electronic records in 1995.

Have questions or concerns? Police are holding several community forums this fall:

  • Sept. 10: Campus Hills Recreation Center, 2000 S. Alston Ave., 10:30 a.m.
  • Sept. 12: DPS Staff Development Center, 2107 Hillandale Road, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 8: Community Family Life and Recreation Center at Lyon Park, 1309 Halley St., 9:30 a.m.

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