As shootings surge, Durham violence interrupter positions remain unfilled months after $1 million expansion OKed

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — After agreeing to spend almost $1 million to expand Durham County’s violence interrupter program almost six months ago, all 18 of the positions Durham City Council added to the program remain unfilled.

On January 19, Durham City Council voted to spend $935,000 to help expand Durham County’s Bull City United Violence interrupter program.

This vote came after the city of Durham saw a year of record shootings where there were almost 1,000 shooting incidents, 318 people were shot, and 33 people died.

The Bull City United program is currently made up three violence interrupters, three outreach workers, and a supervisor.

They work in McDougald Terrace and the southside community near Hillside Park.

Most of the members of this group have been through the criminal justice system and they have connections in these troubled communities in the city.

When they hear about a dispute going on or shooting that’s about to happen, they go out to these scenes and do what they can to prevent violence from happening.

Council voted in January to add a total of 18 positions to this program and to add four areas of the city they would work in, which includes Oxford Manor, Cornwallis Road, the Golden Belt District, and an area just south of downtown.

Those 18 additional positions include eight violence interrupters, eight outreach workers, and 2 supervisors.

The expansion is costing the city $935,000.

But shootings continue to surge in the Bull City, as the latest police data shows that as of May 22, 91 people have been shot so far this year, which has surpassed the 87 people shot this time last year.

Since it’s been almost six months since the city council voted on this expansion, CBS 17 reached out to Durham County to find out how many of the 18 positions have been filled.

In an email, a Durham County spokesperson said that none of the 18 positions had been filled yet.

In previous weeks, the county had said they plan to have six to nine people hired by the end of June and all 18 of these positions filled by the end of Fiscal Year 2022.

“We anticipate onboarding new team members in the next few weeks,” said Dawn Dudley, spokesperson for the county.

Community activist Sheryl Smith lost her 18-year-old son to gun violence in Durham in 2005.

Smith said it is concerning that none of the recently added violence interrupter positions have been filled yet.

“These are our tax dollars, and the crime is continuing to get worse,” Smiths said. “It’s always, ‘we’re going to do this, we are going to do that by this time,’ but while they are continuing to work on it, we have citizens being harmed by this gun violence in Durham. What you are doing is really nothing. I want them to do something because this has really gotten out of hand.”

Durham County officials said they have held community events to try to recruit people for these 18 positions.

But right now, there are no postings on the county’s website for these positions

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Click here for full list of trending stories