DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — On Monday night, the Durham City Council unanimously approved a plan that will add six more permanent police officer positions to the Durham Police Department’s gang unit.
Last year in Durham, 189 people were shot and 37 people died due to violence. That was an increase from 32 homicides the previous year.
According to police, 12 percent of the shootings in Durham last year were gang-related.
Chief C.J. Davis added six positions from other patrol units to the police department’s gang unit back in January. However, she told council last month this has forced some officers to work overtime and volunteer to pick up more shifts.
As a result, she asked the city council to add six permanent positions to the gang unit. The addition of these positions would cost the city $209,715.
“There are relatively very few people who are creating a lot of the gun violence,” Mayor Steve Schewel said at Monday’s meeting.
City councilman Mark Anthony Middleton said he supports Davis’ proposal.
“Running our police department on overtime and depending upon the goodwill of officers to take extra shifts is not the way to govern our great American city,” Middleton said. “This is a very focused specific solution to the problem. This isn’t massively covering the city with police.”
Charlitta Burruss lives in the Edgemont Elms community just east of downtown Durham.
“We cannot continue to take this lightly,” Burruss said. “We hear gunshots in the wee hours of the morning. Once a bullet goes out of a gun, there’s no guarantee who it’s going to hit.”
Burruss added that gun violence has gotten worse over the last few years and she is fearful for her safety and the safety of children who live in the area.
“I’m not against anything that’s going to make our community safe by any means necessary,” said minister and community activist Paul Scott. “However, my hope is that young black men aren’t stereotyped.”
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