Recently, the Winston-Salem City Council concluded this year’s business by discussing deploying a gunshot detection system in East Winston. Both the Finance Committee and the Public Safety Committees of the WSNC City Council were briefed on the merits of this latest high-tech approach to fighting crime. Gunshot detection systems are relatively new, minimally effective, and very expensive.
“The future of criminal investigations lies with advanced and real-time crime centers.”
-Assistant Chief, Natoshia V. Miles
Assistant Chief, Miles told the Public Safety Committee that a gunshot detection system could have saved Jericka McGee’s life. The WSPD maintains that this new technology that only a few cities in our state are using could effectively address gun violence and gang activity.
“McGee, 21, was found on Thursday morning [May 2020] in the 1200 block of N.E. 20th with multiple gunshot wounds. An autopsy on Friday revealed that McGee was pregnant when she was killed. McGee’s death was the 10th homicide in the city this year, and it was the fourth in a six-day stretch.” –Michael Hewlett, Winston-Salem Journal
But the proposed system is only going to cover three square miles. It would be located at Cleveland Avenue and 26th Street, the site of Piedmont Circle. The initial implementation costs would be covered by a grant. But there would be pressure to extend the system throughout high crime neighborhoods-that would be a costly expenditure bore by local taxpayers. Also, ShotSpotter, Inc. may charge the City and or County additional fees. This looks like a self-licking ice cream cone to me-a project that will gradually require more and more of the City of Winston-Salem’s budget.
According to Assistant Chief Miles, the WSPD has cameras in place currently (with Fusus Technology) at the Cleveland Avenue Homes, Salem Gardens, and Ferrell Court Apartments. That video goes directly into the WSPD’s real-time crime center. If approved by the City Council, gunshot data would also go directly to the real-time crime center.
“When they detect noise … the only noise that gets reported to us is actual gunfire,” Leone said. “It’s not we’re listening into phone calls or what’s going on your street.”-Lt. John Leone, WSPD.”
There are a variety of reasons to oppose the deployment of a gunshot detection system in East Winston. The Military-Industrial Police Complex is using the same methods as the dope dealers they’re supposedly at war with. They’re ‘giving’ us this system for free. But once we implement it in one neighborhood, the WSPD and their many supporters on the City Council will push to expand it to more and more neighborhoods, at the expense of local taxpayers. This is a band-aid solution that won’t address the root cause of violence, poverty.
Again, the gunshot detection system proposal that’s before the WSNC City Council is set to be deployed at 26th and Cleveland-that’s on the southside of Piedmont Circle. On the northside of Piedmont Circle, the City of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County spent approximately $6 million to build a gun range for law enforcement in 2011 where a grocery store once stood (see map below).
Piedmont Circle (aka, Piedmont Park) is nearly 70 years old. Imagine if the funds spent on a shooting range were spent on rebuilding Piedmont Circle. Then there wouldn’t be a need for a gun detection system at Clevland and 26th.
Last week, the Public Safety Committee unanimously approved the WSPD’s proposal for a new gunshot detection system. Tell your Councilmember to get 2021 off to a good start. Tell them to oppose purchasing a new gunshot detection system.
Instead of more funding for the police, encourage them to spend more of our scarce resources on affordable housing and quality education. That’s the only way to actually address crime in our community.
Formerly, MACK’S GROCERY now a law enforcement gun range (Source: Winston-Salem Chronicle, March 2, 1989)
Last updated 7:00 pm, 12/21/2020