Public not properly notified of kidnappings, Durham police chief says

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham Police Chief Cerelyn Davis now admits the public was not properly notified following a string of June kidnappings.

For weeks CBS North Carolina has worked to get answers on why a series of kidnappings in Durham were not immediately reported by the police department to the community.

In mid-June, Durham police say Rollin Owens kidnapped several families at gunpoint, forcing them to drive him to ATMs, convenience stores, and a Target. Police say Owens demanded money and other goods from the families.

In four days, police connected Owens to four similar incidents.

On June 20, three days after the first incident, police arrested Owens.

Durham Police didn’t release information to the public about the string of incidents until after the arrest.

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Residents voiced their concerns to CBS North Carolina on why they had to wait days to hear about a kidnapper loose in their community.

RELATED: Neighbors say they tried to warn police about Durham man charged with kidnapping, were ignored

After hearing the concerns from residents, CBS North Carolina asked for on-camera interviews with the Durham police chief, public information officer and city leaders, but were denied.

Police responded via email, saying officers were attempting to connect the incidents and that is why there was a delay releasing the information.

However, following our reports, Durham City Council members also wanted answers on why it took so long for the information to be released to the public.

On June 25, City Councilman Charlie Reece requested information from the police department on what factors played into releasing or not releasing the information via email to City Manager Tom Bonfield.

“I think some direct outreach by Chief Davis to people in the Burch Avenue neighborhood would be especially helpful right now. I’m hearing a lot of anger and frustration about this among those folks,” said Reece.

On July 11, Bonfield provided Davis’ response to council members via email.

READ BONFIELD’S EMAIL

 

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“While I acknowledge this communication will likely not fully satisfy residents of Burch Avenue who were impacted by these events it does acknowledge gaps in these incident’s communication and a commitment to continue to review and provide a reinforcement of expected communications in the future,” said Bonfield.

 

Davis admits information on these incidents should have been relayed to the public at least 24 hours sooner.

She also says the department will implement refresher training for all commanders and watch commanders on notification protocol for significant incidents.

“While initial communication related to this incident fell short of what is expected from the community and administration, the department remains committed to providing timely and accurate public safety information to community members through local media, social media platforms, i.e. NEXTDOOR, Facebook, Twitter, community list serves, PACs and other available resources,” said Davis via email.

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