Violent crime up in Durham, but chief says police prepared for hate groups

By Virginia Bridges

vbridges@heraldsun.com

August 23, 2017 12:51 PM

Grace Turner
Grace Turner
Durham

The Police Department is equipped and prepared to deal with unrest in the city, including a visit from a hate group, Police Chief C.J. Davis told the City Council this week.

“Our officers are well trained to deal with it, (including) if it is a complicated situation that you can’t have an action plan for because your action plan is constantly evolving based on the scenario and situation that you are confronting,” Davis said. “I have all the confidence in the world in the Durham Police Department.”

Davis was responding to a question from Councilman Steve Schewel, who had asked Davis about her level of concern about a hate group coming to the Bull City.

“As a community we are all concerned when a hate group comes to our town that could potentially incite a response,” she said.

Law enforcement relies heavily on local and federal agencies’ intelligence on planned events, she said. Davis has spoken with the Sheriff’s Office about collaborating on how to collectively address those types of situations.

Violent crime

In other news Monday night, Davis reported that violent crime – homicide, rape robbery and aggravated assault incidents – rose 6 percent in the first six months of the year. Homicides dropped by nearly 40 percent.

There were 13 people killed in the first six months of 2017 compared to 21 during the same time last year. The 13 this year include an officer-involved shooting and one case that was ruled self defense.

All of the 2017 cases involved firearms, Davis said.

The 21 homicides in 2016 included a person who was shot in 2010 and died from his injuries in 2016. A 2014 case was ruled a homicide in 2016.

Reported rapes increased 28 percent to 64, robberies increased 7 percent (432), and aggravated assaults increased 5 percent (632).

Ten investigators serve on a robbery task force that primarily focuses on commercial robberies and those committed with firearms, Davis said.

That task force has investigated more than 500 cases and arrested 130 people since it was established in November.

Property crime

Overall, property crime – burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft - rose 5 percent.

Burglary dropped by 3 percent to 1,157, while larceny is up 7 percent (3,398), motor vehicle theft up 10 percent (364) and property crime is up 5 percent (4,919).

Larceny accounts for about 70 percent of the property crimes.

Response times, body cameras

Response times for priority one calls for service averaged about 6.1 minutes, which is longer than the department’s 5.8 minute target, but higher than the 6.25 minute average in the first six months of 2016.

The Police Department has a goal of responding to 57 percent of these calls in less than 5 minutes. It responded in less than 5 minutes to 53 percent of these calls in the first six months of the year.

The department is using investigators to increase the number of officers responding to calls and have sought a consultant to begin a beat realignment, Davis said.

To date, 409 body cameras have been issued, including to all patrol officers, Davis said.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges