Community leaders say more change than new police chief needed in Durham

Durham CAN (Congregations Associations Neighborhoods) on Tuesday talking about change in the city.

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Members of the Durham community held a rally outside the Durham Police Stations asking for changes to be made within the institution on the day the new chief of police was announced.

Monday three people, including a 13-year-old girl, were shot in a Durham apartment complex. This is just one of several incidents this year; at least six people have been killed in shootings in Durham since January 1, 2016.

Mark Anthony Middelton is a member of Durham CAN (Congregations Associations Neighborhoods). Middleton as well as several other members of the community spoke to dozens of Durham residents about changes that need to happen within the Durham Police Department.

Middleton says he was involved in the hiring process for the new police chief, Cerelyn Davis. He says a new chief is a step in the right direction, but it’s just a step.

“The police chief in and of herself is not going to be able to bring about that change,” he said.

Middleton is also a pastor for Abundant Hope Christian Church. He says policing needs to start before the 9-1-1 calls go out. He says the way that happens, just like ministry work, is by integrating yourself in the community.

Many other members of the religious congregation who spoke Tuesday echoed that idea.

“Clearly an enforcement only strategy does not benefit the community and contributes to the harboring of mistrust,” said Herbert Davis, pastor Nehemiah Church and member of Durham CAN.

“The de-allocation of police officers who so often live geographically and emotionally outside of the communities they sever. The second edge of that same sword is the excessive militarization of police forces,” said Tim Conder pastor of Emmaus Way Church and Durham CAN member.

Middleton says this is not a fast fix, but it’s also not as if Durham has to reinvent the wheel.

He says cities across the country have figured out ways to integrate the community with the police force and he says the honest doesn’t just fall on officers.

“We as a citizenry as an informed and sophisticated citizenry have to fill in some blanks for ourselves and then say to police this is what we want policing to look like,” said Middleton.

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