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New City Manager Vows to Turn Things Around in Durham

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Durham's new city manager says he'll pay police officers overtime with money reserved for officers yet to be hired.
DURHAM — The Bull City has been beleaguered by crime,beset by bad press and embroiled in controversy, but Durham's new citymanager is promising to make things better. His plans to get tough oncrime are extensive and, even in their earliest stages, they're startingto work.

Among problems plaguing the city, its Police Department is understaffed. On a recent Friday night, it was at 69 percent of fullstaff. City manager P. Lamont Ewell has decided to use the money beingsaved because of that to pay currently employed officers for overtime at atime-and-a-half rate.

Currently, police are investigating six drive-by shootings in FredParham's west end neighborhood. In one of those, a 13-year-old waswounded. Detectives believe the violence could be connected to gangviolence. Parham showed WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsa bullet hole in hishouse. He says something needs to be done about crime.

Durham police, acting on a directive from Ewell, say theyhave worked out a solution. They will use the $500,000 saved by vacanciesin the department to pay officers who volunteer for overtime. Any officer,sergeant or below, is eligible for the extra hours and pay.

Durham Police Major George Hare says he thinks this is a positive wayto approach the crime problems in the city's worst crime areas.

Only time will tell if the crime rate will be positively affected bythe new system, but officers say morale on the force is already improved.Many say the overtime at their own jobs will mean they don't have tomoonlight for extra money.

Photographer:GilHollingsworth

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