DURHAM — SWAT teams are usually on standby for a hostage situation or a drug raid.The Durham Police Departmentplans to put its SWAT teams on the streets to track down repeat offenders, 24 hours a day.
About one year ago, there was an incident across the street from the police station. A man with ashotgun fired blasts from a hotel room. The Durham Police Selective Enforcement Team took care of the situation, but they had to be called in from all over the city from all of their various jobs and positions.
Durham police believe they can stop crime all over the city if they put the elite team on the streets full time.
Annie Horne lives in northeast-central Durham. Police respond to more calls in that area than in any other section of the city.
"I'm afraid that someone is going to bust in while I'm asleep, and that whenever they do, I won't have a chance to defend myself," Horne said.
Durham police say that Horne and anyone else worried about violent crime can breathe a little easier. Starting July 1, the Special Enforcement Team, with its submachine guns and black jumpsuits, will be on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We just like to see the cream rise to the top, and that is who gets on this team," says Capt. Bill Bond, who commands the Special Enforcement Team. He says that he is fully aware that some people do not like the tactics of the elite unit.
Neighbors and friendsrallied this weekendin support of two senior citizens who claim the unit roughed them up in a drug raid, where no drugs were found.
"The team operates along strict protocol and guidelines," Bond said. "They've got the community's interest at heart. Anything they do on entries or any tactical situation that they run or assess, is done to a standard, and the standard is quite high."
"Maybe I won't be so afraid, and maybe elder people won't be so afraid," Horne said. "Maybe they can come out on their porches and enjoy the summer."
The team will not always wear the black jumpsuits, sometimes they will work in plain clothes.