Two Winston-Salem public safety programs aim to tackle violent crime in the city. 

On Sept. 18, city council passed items pertaining to a new hospital program as well as gunshot-detection technology.

Hospital-based violence intervention

After receiving a $500,000 grant from the state, the city partnered with Wake Forest University Health Sciences to deliver a hospital-based violence intervention program, which started seeing patients this year.

The program’s director, Dr. Yasmin Gay, gave the committee an update on the program, which is headquartered at Atrium Health – Wake Forest Baptist. This program is specifically for those who have suffered from gunshot wounds, stab wounds and blunt assaults with or without objects such as fists, bats, etc. 

  • The team meets victims of interpersonal violence where they are — typically at bedside — and offer services such as a brief screening, assessment, crisis intervention and counseling support.
  • “One of the first questions that we ask when we’re working with them is, ‘Do you fear that your injury may result in retaliation?’” Gay said, adding, “That’s huge because we need to put some people on alert that this may go beyond the hospital.”
  • “Our objective was to develop a comprehensive plan of care that included trauma-informed care,” not just in the hospital but after they leave, Gay said.
  • Atrium Health – Wake Forest Baptist statistics report that 273 people suffered from gunshot wounds and 92 were stabbed within the city limits between 2021-22. This data does not include numbers from other hospitals, Gay told council.
  • For ages 16-18:
    • In 2020, there were 45 gunshot wound patients, one death and five stabbings.
    • In 2021 there were 44 gunshot wound patients, four deaths and four stabbings.
    • In 2022, there were 30 gunshot wound patients, no deaths and two stabbings.
    • This year, there have been 24 gunshot wound patients, one death and one stabbing.

Continuing with ShotSpotter

The city is entering its third year with the software application ShotSpotter. This technology uses acoustic sensors that can detect and locate gunfire incidents and alert law enforcement agencies. An arrangement of approximately 20 sensors are placed per square mile and wirelessly connect to ShotSpotter’s cloud-based application to detect and locate sounds that may represent gunfire. The goal of the technology is to detect gun crime.

Winston-Salem Police Department Capt. Amy Gauldin gave an update to the committee.

  • Last year, the technology clocked a total of 5,458 rounds fired. Through July of this year, there have been 2,956 rounds detected.
  • Between Aug.1, 2022 and July 31 of this year, there were three missed incidents, one mislocated event and 13 misclassified incidents — where the incident was classified as a gunfire when it was not, or vice versa. During that same time frame, ShotSpotter’s acoustic sensors detected and located 24,587 sounds. 
  • “Within 60 seconds it goes to their incident review center, and then is published to us as a customer of ShotSpotter,” Gauldin said, adding that between Aug. 1, 2022 and July 31 of this year 1,505 alerts were published to WSPD and 1,492 of those alerts were accurately located.

City council also approved the purchase of public safety cameras and installation services, in an amount up to and not to exceed $900,000. 

Council also accepted a $100,000 donation in equipment and supplies and funds from the  Winston-Salem Police Foundation to WSPD, including $80,000 worth of 11 outdoor camera systems with license plate reader recognition that will be utilized by the department’s Real Time Crime Center, and $18,000 in equipment and uniforms for WSPD’s auxiliary bicycle patrol. 

According to the foundation’s website, they enable WSPD to qualify and apply for grant funding that is exclusively available for 501(c)(3) organizations, as well as allow for tax-deductible gifts from individuals, businesses and philanthropic organizations. The foundation receives donations from individuals as well as corporate contributors like Truist, Truliant, Novant Health and Wake Forest University. 

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