Fayetteville residents pushing back against city’s plans to install ShotSpotter gun technology

FAYETTEVILLE, NC (WTVD) — Some Fayetteville residents are pushing back against the city’s plans to install ShotSpotter, the gun detection technology. The technology is expected to help law enforcement crack down on crime by identifying where the gun is working faster. Still, critics are questioning the reliability of the technology amid this week’s information sessions about the system.

So far, the response from residents who came to learn about ShotSpotter from Wednesday’s information session has been overwhelmingly positive. They told ABC11 they were concerned the technology was unreliable. Critics have pointed out that despite positive reviews from some police departments in other cities, the gun detection technology has not been proven.

Critics worry that false readings of gunshots could lead to false arrests, convictions and dangerous — if not deadly — encounters with police. They fear that blacks and other ethnic minorities could be arrested if the authorities try to seize any place because of the current cooperation.

“If I shoot a gun in my neighborhood, and I’m doing something wrong, I’m not going to hang around after I shoot the gun to get it. , and I’m just, I’m not heard the gunshots. If I was in my house. I could have been out the same time the police arrived. And I would have been a suspect,” said James Buxton president of the Fayetteville NAACP Chapter.

The police overhaul of Campaign Zero is one of ShotSpotter’s biggest critics.

Abby Magaraci, an advocate with Campaign Zero, said she worked at a 911 call center and saw firsthand how ineffective ShotSpotter was for emergency responders.

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“The ShotSpotter team is great at providing this best selling platform of what ShotSpotter needs and what they claim to do,” he said. “But the research doesn’t support that, and we also know that’s not what’s happening in emergency situations, like first responders. to send the right first responders. We’ve got the Better information comes from direct 911 calls from citizens.”

However, a large number of residents said they were upset that the city council had already voted to allocate $200,000 a year to enter into an agreement with ShotSpotter without getting a proposal. of the citizens.

“The technology doesn’t have the level of confidence to promote it. It’s technology that can be used and deployed in communities, but in terms of how good that technology is, I just think it’s possible to use it. a $200,000 fund to raise another. Our community policing program, group prevention, other ways we can address violence in our community,” said Johnette Henderson.

Valerie Simpson added: “They don’t talk to the town. They don’t talk to these communities to show us that there are positives and negatives in everything.”

Campaign Zero has a special message for city officials considering ShotSpotter in the future.

“A lot of cities talk to people who have tried the technology, found it wasn’t what was advertised and then moved on. Talk to people who have been there before,” said Jacob Wourms.

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A statement from ShotSpotter reads:

According to the Brookings Institution, more than 80% of gunshots are not reported to 911. ShotSpotter is an acoustic alarm system that complements that data by notifying police of gunshots. all around ShotSpotter coverage area of ​​the city within 60 seconds. With a growing list of 135 cities using ShotSpotter and a 99% renewal rate, we believe our technology will help keep communities safe by enabling faster and including how accurately police respond to gunshots before 911 helps save victims’ lives. and have important evidence.

The ShotSpotter system is highly accurate, with a 97% accuracy rate for detection among police department customers for the past three years as independently verified by data analysis firm Edgeworth Analytics . ShotSpotter detectors listen for loud noises and bangs — pops, booms, and bangs — that could be gunshots. After the capture, ShotSpotter’s computers cancel out any sounds that are not clearly gunfire, such as fireworks or helicopters. Remaining sounds are immediately sent and reviewed by highly trained acoustic experts at our 24×7 Incident Review Centers, who can play back the recorded sound and analyze the sound waves to see if they are relevant. They in the general form of the gun, evaluate the company. of witnesses involved, or report the incident to the police as a firearm, or dismiss it as a non-fire incident. ShotSpotter analysts are only credited if they can spot a shot with 99% accuracy or better. The team regularly monitors the performance of human assessors and provides additional training if necessary.

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To help address the root causes of gun violence, ShotSpotter’s Data for Good initiative, led by our community partners, shares data on where gun violence occurs to reach Community violence organizations, schools, and mental health professionals can provide services, advice, and financial assistance.

There is no data to support ShotSpotter’s claim that it puts police on high alert or reacts to dangerous situations. But ShotSpotter provides police officers with more information than usual when arriving at the scene of a gun incident, and they arrive at the scene with a better understanding of the situation.

Cities using ShotSpotter report that they often find people armed with guns when no one calls 911. For example, Oakland police reported in 2020 that they were able to find and organize an immediate medical response to 101 available organisms. Pittsburgh announced that ShotSpotter’s only reporting device to first responders has saved 13 lives in two years. And West Palm Beach, FL was recognized by the US Conference of Mayors for its partnership with ShotSpotter to save the lives of its residents.

Fayetteville police and the city did not respond to our requests for comment regarding the concerns raised by residents.

There will be a final ShotSpotter information session on Zoom at noon on Friday.

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