DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham has unveiled its proposed budget for next year and it includes more police officers and more community policing.
The city manager has proposed adding 20 new police officers and a 4.5-percent pay raise for police officers. Also included in the budget is a three-year phase-in of a “take-home car program.” City leaders say the program will encourage officers to live in Durham and be vested in the community.
Dwight Bagley, who has lived in Durham his whole life, says he believes community policing will have a bigger impact on lowering the crime rate than hiring more officers.
“The issue is the relationship between the community and the police,” said Bagley. “You’ve gotta be able to communicate, treat people as equals. Allow a person the same opportunity you would want them to give you, no matter what the confrontation or what the situation is.”
Revered Mark Anthony Middleton with the Durham CAN (Congregations Associations Neighborhoods) says policing needs to start before the 9-1-1 calls go out. He believes the budget proposal is a step in the right direction, saying take home cars will encourage officers to live and be a part of the community they patrol.
“If you dial 911 we want a police department that shows up and is humane, highly trained, that’s not over-worked and that’s vested in the community,” said Middleton.
Councilors will discuss the budget and then vote on it before it goes into effect. There will be plenty of time for the public to weigh in; the first public hearing is scheduled for June 6.