Local News

Shootings lead to soaring Durham violent crime rate

Posted September 16, 2014 3:14 p.m. EDT
Updated September 16, 2014 5:42 p.m. EDT

— 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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