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City Council to revisit gunshot detection system for Police Department


The Fayetteville City Council on Monday will revisit the execution of a contract for a gunshot detection system for the Police Department.

Reconsideration of the contract is listed under other business on Monday's regular meeting agenda. The council meets at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

On Aug. 22, the City Council voted 8-2 to spend nearly $200,000 a year to execute the contract with ShotSpotter, a high-tech gunshot detection system that is intended to determine where and when shots have been fired and help law enforcement to dispatch response teams more effectively.

Council members Mario Benavente and Shakeyla Ingram opposed the agreement. Since then, another council member has said he may want to reconsider his vote.

In other business, the City Council will consider approval for the city manager to execute a contract with Muter Construction for the planned Mazarick Park Tennis Center building.

The proposed center, which will be available for players of all ages and ability levels, would feature a championship court with spectator seats. The courts will feature covered changeover stations, and participants will be able to visit the on-site pro shop.

Indoor meeting space will be incorporated into the facility.

The council also will consider a budget ordinance amendment to appropriate $50,000 of the city's general fund balance for the Fayetteville Forward General Obligation Bond Information and Education Campaign.

Three bond packages will be on the Nov. 8 ballot for Fayetteville residents. The $97 million in proposed bond packages would spend $60 million on public safety projects, $25 million on infrastructure improvements and $12 million on housing opportunity programs.

The city has launched a marketing campaign to educate the public on the bond initiative.

The Mazarick Park Tennis Center contract and the bond campaign are part of the council’s consent agenda.

Gunshot technology

Law enforcement agencies across the country have implemented various technological tools to help reduce gun violence. One of those tools is the acoustic gunshot detection system, which is intended to detect, verify and automatically notify police dispatchers and officers.

During the dinner meeting ahead of the Sept. 12 City Council meeting, Councilman Deno Hondros said he was interested in reconsidering his vote regarding ShotSpotter.

The council took several procedural actions to put the item back on the agenda.

“So, I wouldn’t necessarily say that I changed my mind,’’ Hondros has said. “I would say I was torn on the decision the night of the council meeting where it came up. It was the first council meeting for the newly-elected — what I call freshmen — council members. That item was on the consent agenda."

The gunshot technology is being used in about 135 cities around the country, according to Ron Teachman, the director of public safety solutions for ShotSpotter Inc., whose corporate headquarters are in Fremont, California.

The technology has been criticized by those who say it's no more beneficial than making a 911 call. Teachman said he ended 32 years of law enforcement work to join the company, and he says the technology "absolutely" makes a difference for law officers.

"The council will decide whether it wants to reconfirm its past action and move forward or stop and direct me not to sign the contract or provide direction," City Manager Doug Hewett has said of the possible options for the council.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com.

Fayetteville, City Council, gunshot detection system, Police Department