DURHAM — Neighbors across the Triangle took to the streets to send a message: Criminals are not welcome in the area.
On a night dedicated to preventing crime, Durham residents remembered the 22 people who have been murdered in the city this year.
"We're talking about 22 murders. We're just in the first six months of the year," says Durham resident Edward Lytle. "I'm afraid what's going to happen when I pick up the paper tomorrow."
Neighborhood activists, police officers, and city leaders stood side by side at a candlelight vigil Tuesday. They promised to fight crime together.
"The crimes police solve, they solve with information from the public," says Durham Mayor Nick Tennyson. "It's a trust relationship we've built the last few years, and we need to keep building."
Mayor Tennyson and council members held eight neighborhood meetings this summer to collect ideas for fighting crime. Despite the soaring murder rate, they say other violent crimes are down.
"We know that at this time last year, there were 955 more victims of index crimes than there were in the first six months of this year," saysDurham policechief Teresa Chambers.
Many of the Durham residents who attended theNational Night Outblock parties believe the police are doing their best. However, they say the murder rate should be city's first priority.
"The thing that alarms me is the murders. I don't know if I'm next or not," Lytle says.
City leaders say the next step is to compile suggestions from the community meetings. After several weeks of talks with residents, they say it is clear that there is no single, easy answer.
Fayetteville police also spent a night out on the town.
Officers, neighbors and friends in the Savoy Heights community threw a going away party to neighborhood crime and drugs. Lots of food, drinks and door prizes were on hand.
Officers say the goal is to raise awareness and report crime so people can have safer neighborhoods to live.
"We are united. We care about the neighborhoods and the crime," says crime prevention specialist Kathleen Ruppert. "We do want to get the crime out of our neighborhoods and give those criminals a going away party."
Despite a Tuesday evening rain shower, more than 30 people showed up at the Fayetteville event.