Durham County seeks community input as gang violence is on the rise

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been a violent week in Durham as there have been four deadly shootings since last Thursday, and officials said at least one of those shootings was gang-related.

So far this year there have been 352 shooting incidents, 106 people have been shot, and 17 people have died. Homicides this year are almost double what they were this time last year.

On Wednesday, county leaders told CBS 17 that a good percentage of the violent crime in Durham is related to gang activity.

“We believe there is a gang problem in Durham,” said Jim Stuit, Durham County’s Gang Reduction Strategy Manager.

Stuit said that Durham has seen a gradual increase in gang membership as there are now at least 2,042 validated gang members in the city.

Stuit said some children are getting recruited as early as 12 years old.

“We have the regular gangs, the Crips, the Bloods, and then we have a lot of hybrid gangs also,” Stuit said.

Stuit said some of the recent shootings have been gang-related and many of them involve juvenile gang members.

“I think a lot of them are disputes that come up at the spur of the moment,” Stuit said. “It could be something from social media, it could be an argument about a girlfriend, or it could be an argument about a drug sale.”

One thing Durham County is doing to address the problem with gang activity is they have hired seven more workers for their Bull City United Violence Interrupter Program. These individuals serve as mediators in crime-ridden communities, and they work to prevent shootings before they happen.

“They, more than anybody else, know the background, they know how problems can be solved,” Stuit said.

Stuit said Durham County is asking for more input from the community through the Durham Community Resident Gang Assessment Survey.

Stuit said they want to know what issues their neighborhoods have with gangs and what they would like to see be done to address it.

He said it’s part of Durham County’s comprehensive gang assessment they plan to complete later this year.

For people who do not have internet access, Stuit also said the survey will be passed out at convenience stores, barbershops, and grocery stores in Durham.

Samuel Jenkins owns Samuel & Sons Barber Shop on Angier Avenue in east Durham, an area where some recent shootings have occurred.

Jenkins said the problem starts at home with the parents and the city should provide more mentoring programs to parents in poverty-stricken communities.

“The city has got to be held accountable,” Jenkins said. “If you’re on the city council, or you’re the mayor, then you’re the parent of the people who are in your city. It’s a direct reflection on you. If the city was concerned about the shootings like they say they are, they would be writing something up that says, ‘we’re going to get these parents more services to help their children.'”

CBS 17 reached out to some city leaders about Jenkins’ idea, Councilman Mark Anthony Middleton got back with us and said he would be on board with the idea.

To fill out the gang assessment survey, go here.

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