Local News

Feds Could Help Crack Down on Durham Crime

Posted January 23, 2008 6:02 p.m. EST

— The federal government could soon bring in assistance in an effort to crack down on crime in the Bull City.

"We are aggressively addressing the violent crime issue in Durham," Earl Woodham, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Wednesday.

The ATF is considering bringing what is called a Violent Crime Impact Team to Durham. The program would bring together prosecutors as well as federal and local law enforcement officers who would target the city's high-crime areas.

Woodham said Durham is not alone when it comes to violent crime problems. However, it's one of the largest cities in North Carolina that doesn't already have a large ATF presence.

The Department of Justice would have to approve the program for Durham, and that could take as long as a year. Greensboro is the only other North Carolina city with a Violent Crime Impact Team.

Durham County District Attorney David Saacks said being able to prosecute some criminals under federal law means stiffer sentences in some cases.

That, he said, could pay off when it comes to reducing crime.

"There's a certain population that's repeat offenders and some that are violent repeat offenders," Saacks said. "Anything to help combat that population, I think, would be more than welcome."

The ATF has about a dozen field offices across the state, including one in Raleigh. A long-term goal is to put one in Durham, as well. But that could take five to 10 years.