Federal report outlines problems, solutions for Durham's violent crime
Posted April 22, 2015
Durham, N.C. — The murder rate of young black men in Durham is eight times higher than the national average, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The troubling statistic regarding black males ages 15 to 34 was part of a report on how to curb violent crime in the city, which has seen an uptick in gun-related violence recently.
City leaders asked the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs to compile the report, which includes a list of recommendations. The city is eligible for training and technical assistance from the DOJ to implement the recommendations.
DOJ analysts spent months collecting Durham’s crime data and interviewing residents as part of their report. Numbers show aggravated assaults with a firearm spiked in 2014 to 577 cases, compared with 385 in 2013 and 461 in 2012.
DOJ senior specialists Scott Decker and Hildy Saizow delivered the report to city leaders and other stakeholders during a meeting Wednesday. Decker challenged those in the audience to think of the homicide rate among young black men in terms of other public policy issues such as illiteracy, teen pregnancy or influenza.
“If you think of any of these social conditions, which are troubling and problematic, were eight times higher for a population subgroup than the overall U.S. rate, it ought to cause an outrage. It ought to cause a call to action,” Decker said.
The report recommends that Durham leaders coordinate a community response to gun violence, increase confidence in the police department, improve relations between police and residents, address barriers in the community and adopt proactive, long-term strategies for law enforcement.
Decker and Saizow said the federal agency would continue to offer assistance beyond the report.