Durham’s new police chief looks to address city’s gun violence, police shortage

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – In a one-on-one interview with CBS 17 on Tuesday, Durham’s new police chief Patrice Andrews says addressing gun violence and a shortage of officers will be two of her top priorities.

“I’m ready, ready for the challenge,” Andrews said. “Really, just ready to start this next chapter in the city that I love.”

Patrice Andrews was named the new chief on Monday. Andrews was previously the Town of Morrisville’s chief of police for five years.

Before her time in Morrisville, she worked with the Durham Police Department, where she began as a patrol officer in 1997. She had also supervised units in the criminal investigations division and responded to major homicides during her time in Durham.

Andrews is returning to Durham at a time where deadly shootings are up 35 percent from last year. So far this year 34 people have been shot, which is up from the 22 people who had been shot this time last year.

So far this year 219 people have been shot and there have been 631 shooting incidents, which is an average of more than two a day.

In comparison, there have been zero shootings in Morrisville so far this year.

CBS 17 asked Andrews what her plan is to tackle gun violence in Durham after serving as chief in a town where there were no shootings.

“I think what’s important is that we understand that violent crime is not solved by one department alone,” Andrews said. “The police department itself isn’t going to be able to wave a magic wand and solve the problem with violent crime, specifically our homicide rate and gun crime. You cannot arrest your way out of violent crime, you just can’t do it.”

But as for what police can do, Andrews said she first wants to meet with her staff and find out what has worked.

“What do we need to build upon and are there any innovative methods that we can use,” Andrews said.

She said she would be open to trying ShotSpotter, which is the gun detection technology that automatically sends police to the scene of a crime at the sound of gunfire.

Andrews said she wants to work with community groups and city leaders to look at what can be done to address the root cause of the violence.

“How are we connecting with the youth in our community, are we connecting with them enough, are there other ways that we can reach them?” Andrews said.

The Durham Police Department is also facing a staffing shortage, as there are 70 police officer vacancies.

Andrews said one of her main goals is to fill academies with quality officers and to look at what needs to be done to retain officers.

“We need to ask, ‘what has caused officers to not want to have to stay in this profession or in the city of Durham?'” Andrews said.

Andrews takes over following the departure of C.J. Davis, who left to lead the Memphis Police Department earlier in the year.

Her first day as Durham’s new police chief will be Nov. 1.

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