Local News

Durham Mayor Tackles Crime During Address

Posted January 23, 2008

— As violence in Durham continues to increase, Mayor Bill Bell had some strong words for criminals in his State of the City address Tuesday.

"We have got to get tougher on those who commit violent crimes with guns," the mayor said.

Bell also blamed part of the crime wave on a backlog of criminal paperwork.

That problem is "subpoenas being issued, but not being served. Warrants being issued, but not being served,” he said.

So far this month, Durham police have responded to two murders and 70 robberies. There was one murder and were 51 robberies in all of January last year.

Most recently, the University Inn, across the street from Duke Hospital, was robbed at about 1:10 a.m. Tuesday.

“The guy walked in and said give him the money or I'll kill you,” Clerk Gail Huff said.

Huff told police the robber implied that he had a gun and fled on foot after receiving cash from the register. Huff is among at least a half dozen Duke students and staffers that have been recently robbed at gunpoint.

"I worry about my guests," Huff said. "Mostly because they're from out of town, and they don't expect this when they come here. It's just wrong."

Members of the Durham Latino community have also been targeted by robbers. Police are trying to figure out if all, or at least some, of the crimes are connected.

"We have to double our efforts, because this cannot – repeat – cannot continue. It's getting out of hand," Durham City Council member Eugene Brown said.

Brown said more police officers are needed on the streets and that when suspects are arrested, higher bonds are needed to keep them off the streets.

The mayor said he is also in favor of increasing jail bonds.

Durham police receive about 1,200 court papers a month. Deputy Chief Ron Hodge said that due to incorrect information in the papers, only about 50 percent of them get handled.

"It's not due to our efforts to try to get them served. We do the best we can with the paperwork when we get it,” Hodge said.

Bell also had a message for landlords who rent to people they know are lawbreakers.

"You need to watch out, because we are coming for you,” he said.

A town hall meeting scheduled for Wednesday will focus on the recent rash of armed robberies around Duke University's campus. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Fitzpatrick Center.

"I think all of us are in shock in terms of what's happened in the last three to four weeks," Brown said.

City and university police are stepping up patrols in and around the campus in response to the crime wave.

Anyone with information about recent crimes in Durham is asked to call police at 919-560-4427, Duke police at 919-684-2444 or Durham Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200. Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest in connection with the robberies.


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  • mrr03 Jan 23, 2008

    Hey all you people out there coming down on Durham!! Please take a long look at Raleigh. The city is just as bad as if nor worse that Durham I know..I've lived in both, however, WE all know why Durham gets a bad rap..Don't we!!

  • nghtstarz2 Jan 23, 2008

    As a Durham citizen, for almost half a century, I have a right to feel let down by my local government. I do vote, my family votes, but, in recent years, there has been no choices for real leadership and even fewer chances for real change. Voting for the lesser of all evils is helping none of us. There is little attraction to hold a public office, the pay isn't great considering most of the people who could make a real difference can make much more money in the private sector. We need a mayor who researches the problem, brings in experts to help, then acts, with deliberance. No nonsense, no excuses. We must, in the times we now live, face the fact that we have a huge chance of being a victim of violent crime. I have searched my heart and I will fight back, if necessary. I support local police, fire and rescue personnel, God help them. They are fighting a losing battle unless the public intervenes. Public condemnation and harsh personal punishments are the answer.

  • AM is Back to Being Immaculate Jan 23, 2008

    I'm not sure what can be done about giving Durham a better image.

    I work in Downtown Durham and this city is a scary place.

  • 867-5309 Jan 23, 2008


  • 867-5309 Jan 23, 2008

    humbleblaklady: you're not support Bell? That's not sisterly of you!

  • Titus Pullo Jan 23, 2008

    Oh, and another thing...

    Every time a politician starts talking about doing something about crime.. all law abiding citizens should shudder with fear. They always end up curtailing the rights of us all and they never do anything about criminals and criminal behavior. Passing the buck to landlords... you might as well hold teachers responsible for crime, or the guy who works at your pharmacy.

  • Titus Pullo Jan 23, 2008

    Bill Bell doing something about crime in Durham. I laughed until my sides hurt.

  • 68_polara Jan 23, 2008

    I'm sorry did humbleblaklady have anything to add to this or was that just one long smear on Bush or what?

  • 68_polara Jan 23, 2008

    "Bill Bell, like his brother, G.W. Bush"

    What the?

  • twc Jan 23, 2008

    Headline says he tackled crime? He TALKED about tackling crime! There is a big difference!!

    But it really doesn't do any good to tackle crime anyway! It's in the news all the time where the police put their lives on the line to bring criminals in and then they're released on bail even after the second and third crimes occur before they even go to trial on the first one. That is the major fault!!!

    The criminals know the overcrowded courts better than the judges!! If we don't have our judicial system supporting our law enforcement agencies then we have a system that is doomed to failure!!!

    It's the COURTS!!! There is no justice because the courts don't have time to do their job!!! They pass the buck to the law enforcement agencies!!

    The courts need to be run like a business!! The products they are currently producing are sub-standard!! Most of them need to be re-called!!!