Davis named Durham’s next police chief

Cerelyn Davis

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield has selected Cerelyn Davis to be the next chief of police.

Davis was one of two finalists for the Durham police chief job; Michael Smathers was the other finalist.

Previous: Atlanta, Charlotte officers are finalists for Durham Police Chief

People living in Durham have different opinions about whether the new police chief will reduce crime in the city.

One thing in common though, from the city manager to neighbors who are dealing with crime is they all want change.

“I’ve been living in this neighborhood for a month and 2-3 times, we were not able to use our front door,” said Starasia Scott of Durham. “It was taped off due to shootings.”

Scott wants the shootings in her neighborhood to stop.

Monday night, bullets went flying into her apartment, while her little boy was outside playing.

She does not feel safe anymore.

“Not at all. I don’t even feel safe right now having this interview with you,” she said.

The shooting, that sent three people to the hospital, was just hours before the City named its new police chief. That news doesn’t give Scott comfort.

“I do not think any chief, any sheriff will make a difference in the city because it’s when you want something done, you got to do it yourself,” said Scott. “In order for it to be a better place, people have to change.”

Bonfield said there are a number of issues the new chief is going to have to face right away.

“Crime is at the top of that list, violent crime, in particular,” he said. “I don’t think that it’s reasonable to think that the new chief is going to come to town and fix the violent crime in Durham, but it is an issue that will get a lot of attention.”

Bonfield wants to see change in the city. He expects a change in how the department responds to shootings and uses its resources.

He wants that new direction to include help from the neighborhood.

“How we can better draw the community into the solutions to help us reduce, and hopefully eliminate, the kinds of violent crime, in particular, the shootings, that we just continue to have way too much of in Durham,” he said.

Scott believes the solution is neighbors wanting a better community for themselves.

“It’s the people that need to look in the mirror and change their ways,” she said. “When everybody change their ways then the world can be a better place.”

A group of community leaders held a press conference outside Durham police headquarters sharing their vision of an ideal relationship between the community and the police department.

Davis will start work June 6.

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