Local News

Crime In Durham Boils Down To Location

Posted May 19, 2004

— It is supposed to be a city full of promise and progress, but crime is often what some people recall when they think of Durham. Officials claim it boils down to a matter of location.

There have been five homicides in the last two weeks alone, which makes 13 this year -- almost double the 2003 pace.

"I don't think there's really an explanation that we know," Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers said. "It's something we've been dealing with for a long time, and we think most of it is gang-related."

"I'm still angry. Anytime you see a life being taken for no valid reason, it makes me angry and I'm sure it makes the community angry," said Durham Mayor Bill Bell.

So far this year, there have been about 90 shootings, most have been in northeast central Durham, which sits about four blocks from the heart of downtown.

"We are looking at that to see what's going on to see if anything is developing in that area," Chalmers said.

While the violence may not reach places like Trinity Park, it is within earshot.

"I mean we can hear gunshots from here," resident Katy Feen said. "I read about it in the paper, and I know people are getting shot."

However, Fenn said she does not give the shootings much thought.

"In terms of day-to-day stuff, I feel pretty comfortable," Fenn said.

"It's a small segment of the community that's involved. It's people who know each other. There's not a lot of randomness about it -- if that's a comfort to people," Bell said.

In the last year, the police chief and city leaders have spearheaded several programs aimed at crime. Despite the shooting statistics, they insist they are making headway. They readily admit Durham's future hinges on reducing the violence.

City leaders were quick to point out that last year Durham saw an 8 percent decrease in violent crime, and that violent crime in the heart of the downtown area is rare.

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