Local News

New Durham officer goes from battlefield to battling crime

Posted July 14, 2011 10:40 p.m. EDT
Updated July 15, 2011 6:21 a.m. EDT

— A recent report showed the state's crime rate has dropped to its lowest level in more than 30 years. On Thursday night, Durham police graduated a new class of officers whose task is to drive those numbers down even more.

Among them was a military veteran who has gone from the battlefield to battling crime.

Like so many little boys, Maurice Harris grew up with the dream of becoming a police officer. After high school, he joined the armed forces and served for about six years, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

He plans to use his experience in the military to help police the communities in Durham.

"I look at being a police officer as being positive, and if I can be that, then that's my dream," he said.

Leah Harris said she is cautiously optimistic about her son's new job.

"(I'm) just a little bit" scared, she said. "I think that's just natural."

Harris said he understands that, while rewarding at times, police work can be grueling and sometimes gruesome.

"I did a tour in Afghanistan. Durham can't be much worse than Afghanistan," he said. "It's something I chose to do, so if I have to make a major sacrifice, it’s something in my mind I know I’m already ready to do."

In 2010, Durham County's crime rate fell 5.3 percent to 5,582.5 crimes per 100,000 people. The overall rate of crime per 100,000 people in North Carolina fell by 5.6 percent from 2009 to 2010, while violent crime dropped 10.2 percent and property crime went down 5.3 percent.

Those numbers are based on data submitted by law enforcement agencies across North Carolina to the State Bureau of Investigation.