Local News

Shootings lead to soaring Durham violent crime rate

Posted September 16, 2014

— A rash of shootings early this year pushed the violent crime rate in Durham up by 30 percent between January and June, compared with the first six months of 2013, according to police statistics.

Reports of aggravated assaults in Durham were up 50 percent in the first half of 2014, to 587 from 391 last year. Meanwhile, the number of homicides in the city dropped from 13 to 10 in the same period.

Police said a series of retaliation shootings between rival gangs played a role in the jump in assaults.

"We’re finding the same people, the same names, the same cars. It seems to be back-and-forth, retaliatory type of thing," Deputy Police Chief Larry Smith said. "These types of crimes are hard to solve. You’ve got shell casings, (but) if people in the house don’t cooperate, you’re at a disadvantage."

Smith said shootings into homes also pile up the assault numbers quickly since statistics are calculated based on the number of victims. A single shooting into a home with six people inside, for example, produces six aggravated assault cases.

The Durham Police Department has deployed extra resources to areas of the city with the highest crime rates, he said, noting that investigators have constructed "criminal link charts" to determine whom victims know in an effort to track down culprits.

Property crimes were up 8 percent in Durham in the first half of 2014, led by a 16 percent rise in burglaries, according to police statistics.

By comparison, Raleigh's violent crime rate is down about 2 percent during the first eight months of 2014, and its property crime rate is down more than 8 percent.

Smith said 2013 numbers crime numbers were unusually low, so comparing this year's figures with those is a bit misleading. Durham's crime rate appears to be on the decline since June, he said, and people who live and work in the city said they feel safe.

"I think we’ve always been the red-headed stepchild of the Triangle – people saying, 'See, it’s dangerous in Durham' – but it’s never felt that way to me," restaurateur Kelli Cotter said. "I feel like more and more people are realizing it’s a really cool city."

"We have a very resilient community, and the confidence in downtown Durham is at an all-time high," said Geoff Durham, president of booster organization Downtown Durham Inc. "A thriving downtown certainly has a wider-reaching positive effect."

Durham crime statistics

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  • Thomas Williams Sep 17, 2014
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    Contributing to the already bad reputation that Durham has as a high crime area. If Bell wasn't mayor, you would be hearing a lot more negative comments about Durham. Thing is that the people who keep putting Bell in office aren't going to gripe about what is going on in Durham b/c it might make their guy look bad.

  • Brandon White Sep 17, 2014
    user avatar

    The problem is cultural, and seeking a judicial solution to an embedded sociological problem is not going to work. You have to go for the root causes. Discipline at school, and dropping out is not an option and provide vocational training in needed occupations. Eliminate public housing projects and provide subsidies for rent. Have welfare benefits on an inverse scale for multiple children, the more children you have the less money you get. Trumpet the value of men and father's in young men's lives.

    Another unique idea would be to take these characters and put them on the border with guns and pay them as long as their directing their aim south. Offer a bounty. Our immigration problem would be resolved in 60 days or less.

  • disgusted2010 Sep 17, 2014

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    There are very few people in prison for "drug use." They are there for selling drugs, trafficking in drugs, stealing or robbing to support their habit. Possession of drugs rarely gets an active sentence AND if their records show that this is why they are there then one needs to look at what charges were dismissed as a part of a plea agreement.

    All those that want to legalize drugs do not understand that drugs are the root cause of many very serious crimes. Drugs will not be legalized until those billionaires that control the country figure out a way to become richer based on legalization than on them being legal.

  • 68_dodge_polara Sep 17, 2014

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    Agreed, putting a drug user in prison is a stupid waste of money. If it's against current law to use a certain substance fine the abuser. Just looks at the millions North Carolina makes off DUIs.

  • Lorna Schuler Sep 17, 2014
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    I actually fully understand the problems. Jails are full or near capacity because many non-violent offenders are handed harsher sentences and spend more time in jail. And by non-violent I am referring to say the person who is arrested and jailed for drug use (not drug sales, just use) That is just an example of course, but I think you get my drift. Also the fact that bleeding hearts have pushed and managed to get laws passed that want to coddle criminals, can't have them crowded, can't deny them anything blah,blah,blah. Then of course as you say, no one wants to spend the money to provide the necessary space and more importantly, personnel to watch over, transport to court, doctor, whatever.

  • busyb97 Sep 17, 2014

    The headline would be more accurate if it read "Shootings CONTRIBUTE to soaring Durham violent crime rate".

    This just fuels the gun debate. The gun grabbers seem to think tougher gun laws fix this (which aren't easy..not sure what YOU are reading, but you do have to get background checks and permits, etc, to LEGALLY own a gun). Countries who already have serious gun control, aka- law-abiding citizens can't get one, have high violent-crime stats. They may not have mass shootings AS much (still get them), they do have increased violent crimes elsewhere. You make it a "gun free zone" and there is nothing to make the crook thing twice before busting down your door. The bad guys will ALWAYS still have a way to get the guns- just like they do now. They aren't getting them from LEGAL owners, but from gun runners, gangs, or stealing them.

    Prohibition didn't work with alcohol, it won't work with guns.

  • 68_dodge_polara Sep 17, 2014

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    And didn't the feds say the economy was in recovery? You believe them too?

  • Paul M Sep 17, 2014

    Was'nt last month or so they said it was down alot ?

  • icdmbpppl Sep 17, 2014

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    I thought it was quite amusing.

  • icdmbpppl Sep 17, 2014

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