Durham debates how to improve crime, image

Durham Police (FIle)

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – There are some beautiful views of Durham — and like any view, it depends on your perspective. In the case of crime in the Bull City, there are several different perspectives.

“Durham is a place that’s friendly — and people feel safe,” said resident Juan Villvous.

But since the start of the year the city has had 35 murders as well as a 16 percent increase in violent crime compared to the same time last year.

There were 22 homicides in the city in 2014 and 30 in 2013.

The Rev. Mark-Anthony Middleton, pastor of Abundant Hope Christian Church, said, “We have challenges but it’s nothing exotic or unusual going on here relative to other great American cities.”

Middleton was part of a task force that visited Boston to see how that city reversed its crime rate and became more responsive to the community. He said the same can happen here.

“We have seen mistrust between the police and the community and I’m confident that will change,” Middleton said.

Durham is looking for a new police chief and trying to find ways to engage the community..

“We have consultants trying to get information from the community in terms of what they would like to see on the police force,” Mayor Bill Bell said.

Some residents believe the police department needs to change..

“They need to work a little more with the community,” said Durham resident Ivon Castro.

And another resident, William Newcomb, said, “Change the chief and try again.  If it’s not working it’s not working.”

But even with a new chief and a new direction for the department, Pastor Middleton said the community has to be involved..

“Our new chief needs to understand the importance of relating to and involving the community,” he said. “The police can’t do it without the community.”

Later in December, another delegation travels to Kansas City to see how its police force deals with crime and the community. After that, the Boston task force will detail to city officials what they’ve learned.


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