Council approves WPD crime lab transfer, funds for new Shotspotter program

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WPD crime lab (Photo: Andrew James)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tonight the police crime lab officially was turned over to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office for a majority control over the space.

Police announced in April the Sheriff’s office would take over 60% of the operations and costs of the crime lab. Police say this comes after months of discussion and an evaluation of the lab’s functions the change takes effect July 1st.

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The lab will remain in its current location.

The city will now only have to cover 40% of the lab’s costs to operate. Some funds may open out of this, however, in their final June meeting, city leaders approved for funds to go towards a new artificial intelligence program to combat crime.

Shotspotter Missions is a program for crime forecasting and patrol management tool. Police Chief Ralph Evangelous presented to the council the system and why he thinks the department should take part in the beta run.



“It will use predictive analytics and get our resources where they need to be hopefully to prevent crime. If we prevent crime we’ve succeeded,” said the chief.

It uses artificial intelligence-driven analysis to identify specific officer deployments to
maximize crime deterrence according to the city.

Council approved $18,500 from drug tax revenue and $55,150 from crime forfeited funds to enter into a contract to use the program.

“If we make an arrest that will be great but it’s after the fact. If we can prevent crime that will be the gauge of success,” said Chief Evangelous.

Wilmington will be one of the first cities to use the program in its beginning stages according to Evangelous.