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Gunshot technology to be discussed at City Council work session Monday

City leaders also to address council representative to Fayetteville PWC


The Fayetteville City Council is expected to revisit a plan to purchase gunshot detection technology for the Police Department at a work session on Monday.

The council will convene at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

Three items on the agenda involve the controversial “shots fired” technology.

The council has been divided on whether a high-tech gunshot detection system is a good investment to improve public safety.

Law enforcement agencies across the country have implemented technology tools to help reduce gun violence. One of those tools is an acoustic gunshot detection system designed to detect and verify when and where shots are fired and to automatically notify police dispatchers.

But skeptics say the technology — this version called ShotSpotter — is no more effective than a 911 call from a resident or business.

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Debate on adopting the technology here has continued for roughly 20 months.

Mayor Mitch Colvin has asked that the council consider a contract for ShotSpotter at its Nov. 14 meeting. If a contract is approved, the Police Department and ShotSpotter would be directed to host community meetings to explain the program to the public.

The goal, Colvin's request says, is to provide a safe and secure community.

The council cannot take final action during a work session, so the issue would be discussed at the regular meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 14.

In a separate proposal, Councilman Mario Benavente is requesting that the city host town hall meetings — two in-person and one virtual — on implementing ShotSpotter here considering the history of the company’s technology on different communities.

It is crucial that people have the opportunity to get information on how it would affect privacy rights, constitutional rights and police resources, Benavente said in his agenda request.

He suggested an amendment to the ShotSpotter contract that would direct the company to provide the city with a review of data being collected on the public and whether the resources being spent produce the desired outcome.

Benavente also has requested that the city pursue a contract with a public safety advocacy organization that delivered a report to the City Council in August outlining recommendations for 13 “action items” to address safety. The report is based on efforts by Aqeela Sherrils and Elizabeth Reubens to address crime in New Jersey.

Benavente said a proposal was submitted to the City Manager’s Office in September.

In other matters before the council Monday, Colvin says it should appoint a representative to the Fayetteville Public Works Commission. The council delayed action on an appointment on Sept. 12.

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

Fayetteville, City Council, crime, public safety