Local News

New City Manager Vows to Turn Things Around in Durham

Posted December 3, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The Bull City has been beleaguered by crime, beset by bad press and embroiled in controversy, but Durham's new city manager is promising to make things better. His plans to get tough on crime are extensive and, even in their earliest stages, they're starting to work.

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

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

Durham police, acting on a directive from Ewell, say they have worked out a solution. They will use the $500,000 saved by vacancies in 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 way to approach the crime problems in the city's worst crime areas.

Only time will tell if the crime rate will be positively affected by the 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 to moonlight for extra money.

Photographer:Gil Hollingsworth