New Durham police chief faces challenges on her first day
Posted June 6
Durham, N.C. — After working in Atlanta for nearly 30 years, Cerelyn "CJ" Davis began her first day Monday as the new Durham police chief.
Davis was recognized Monday morning during a ceremonial swearing in. She replaces Jose Lopez, who was forced to retire as Durham's police chief last fall after city leaders said he wasn't making enough progress, citing rising numbers in crime.
Chief Davis will face challenges right from the start. City leaders say one of the biggest tasks she will have is trying to repair a broken relationship with the community.
"She is not going to be a miracle worker," said Larry Smith, who served at the interim police chief. "We have so many difference issues in Durham, somebody is going to be happy, and somebody is not going to be happy."
Durham police have been the focus of community protests in recent years following several officer-involved shootings, and a recent report found that black men were far more likely to face a traffic stop in Durham than any other group.
Davis is also taking over the Durham Police Department at a time when violent crime is up – by May, 16 homicides were recorded so far this year, compared with 11 in May 2015.
"I know there are great expectations for this department," Davis said. "The only thing I can do is to continue to work with the smart, knowledgeable leadership that is already here."
According to Davis, rebuilding trust with the community and reducing violent crime are some of her top priorities.
"Prevention is more important to me than response," she said. "We can prevent crime in the city of Durham by utilizing various types of preventative measures, not just making sure that citizens are aware to prevent from being crime victims. We also need to make sure our young people understand how important it is to not be involved in violent criminal activity."
There will be a public swearing in ceremony Friday at 6 p.m.