Gun violence study to be revealed as a part of York City surveillance proposal

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Police investigate the scene of a shooting in the 500 block of North Pershing Avenue in York City, Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The shooting was reported just after 10 a.m. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The lead consultant exploring the feasibility of a widespread surveillance network in York City will soon unveil the first draft of a York College study covering gun violence in the city.

In addition, the feasibility study itself will last a month longer than initially expected to gather more input from city residents, said Montez Parker, a consultant hired by the local nonprofit organization Better York. The study is now slated to last until mid-July.

“It’s a gun violence study that compares York to other smaller cities,” Parker said.

He declined to offer additional details about the study.

More:Residents: More public input needed on York City surveillance proposal

More:York City Police: Shooting surge similar to what other cities saw last spring

Parker and local officials have said gun violence was the biggest factor in exploring a surveillance network that would be based on work done by the Lancaster Safety Coalition, a nonprofit organization that operates 170 cameras throughout Lancaster City.

A surge in gun violence has reared its head locally this year. In the first quarter of the year, which ended on March 31, there were 14 shootings — the highest number on record.

In late April heading into this month, there were six reported shootings in the city in a seven-day period.

Historical data on a monthly basis is unavailable, according to York City Police spokesperson Lt. Dan Lentz.

Capt. Daniel Aikey, speaking at a public forum last month, noted that there's often no rhyme or reason to surges in shootings. But the recent influx could have to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, cities nationwide saw a surge in violent crime as COVID-19 swept through communities and hampered local economies. 

Next month’s public forum, which is yet to be scheduled, will likely mark the first time concrete data has been presented by those leading the feasibility study.

And residents will now have until sometime in mid-July, rather than mid-June, to make up their minds. 

Montez Parker, a consultant hired by Better York, speaks at a public forum about a proposal to install a citywide surveillance network on Tuesday, May 4.

At past public forums, feedback has largely been mixed. Residents voiced concerns about privacy and, more recently, a lack of public input.

“Many people said they need more time and information to make an informed decision,” Parker said.

As of last month’s public forum, of the nearly 44,000 residents in York City, only roughly 200 had responded to an online survey meant to gauge the community's interest in the proposal. 

About 81% of respondents to the online survey said they either absolutely or probably support the camera system. But in total, the roughly 200 responses only account for about 0.45% of the city's population.

The feasibility study does not guarantee that any surveillance system will be implemented in York. Parker and city officials have said that will be based on public feedback.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.