Featured Durham Public Schools Board of Education discusses gun violence technology, ShotSpotter

Published on September 23rd, 2022 📆 | 3800 Views ⚑

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Durham Public Schools Board of Education discusses gun violence technology, ShotSpotter


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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN)–Durham City leaders continue to discuss efforts to utilize technology to keep people safe from gun violence.

Recently, Durham city council leaders made an agreement with the company called ShotSpotter to utilize sensors that would detect the sound of gun shots and pinpoint the location it came from. City leaders and law enforcement have discussed how the pilot program would improve response times and help determine policing efforts through collected data.

The company also reached out to Durham Public Schools. In a statement, Gary Bunyard who is the SVP of Public Safety Solutions at ShotSpotter said: ““ShotSpotter has reached out to Durham Public Schools for permission to place sensors on select school buildings that are located within the planned ShotSpotter coverage area. If permission is granted, these sensors will be part of a broader network to detect outdoor gunshots across the planned coverage area.”

The company said that nearly 80% of gunfire goes unreported to 911 which could result in the delay from victims getting help and leave crimes cases unsolved. The company said ShotSpotter is “an acoustic gunshot detection system that fills that data gap by alerting police of virtually all gunfire within a city’s ShotSpotter Coverage Area within 60 seconds – enabling a fast, precise police response, ultimately helping police officers save lives.”

During Thursday night’s school board meeting, several members expressed their concerns about utilizing the sensors on six Durham Public School buildings. School Board Member, Natalie Beyer, said, “I am concerned that this technology doesn’t in fact make them safer,” and added, “I’d be interested in future conversations about a buffer of not having ShotSpotter within a radius of our buildings.” Beyer said she did not support ShotSpotter sensors at schools.

School Board Member Millicent Rogers agreed that schools may not be the appropriate place for the technology. She said, “I’m really grateful that we are working to reduce gun violence in Durham– it is a problem.” Rogers said the devices may create an unnecessary surveillance which could impact student’s privacy and education. She added, “I have confidence in the city and the police force that if there is an emergency at our schools they will respond if called, therefore we don’t need surveillance- so it’s a no for me.”

School Board Member Alexandra Valladares spoke as someone who recently had a bullet in her car from gun violence that happened near her own children’s school. She said ShotSpotter may help improve response times during an emergency, but also said it may not prevent it from happening in the first place. She said, “We need to prevent guns on our campus, we do not need any weapons on our campus proximate to our children, this technology is not addressing that.”

In order to really tackle the issue, school board members said that it may be more beneficial to address the root of the problem. Thursday night, Durham Public Schools Board of Education did not vote to move the matter forward.

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