DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A sign calling for the Durham Police Department to be defunded – painted on Main Street outside of Durham Police Headquarters – was defaced overnight.
The sign, which says “DEFUND” in massive, yellow block letters with an arrow pointing at police headquarters, had a blue line drawn across the middle and a blue heart with the words “Thank you” written inside it.
The Durham County Fraternal Order of Police told CBS 17 in April the defund movement and the sign outside the police department are both having a negative impact on police morale and recruitment.
The Durham County FOP is calling on the city to approve an annual raise for city employees which would be a five percent increase annually. But spokesperson Larry Smith said increasing the pay is not the only thing that needs to be done to recruit more officers.
“It wasn’t just the pay, it was about not feeling supported,” Smith said.
Smith said the “Defund the Police” movement over the last year has discouraged a lot of people from going into law enforcement.
Smith said some Durham officers tell him there does not seem to be strong support for law enforcement coming from the city.
He said one example is the word “Defund” painted on Main Street outside of Durham Police Headquarters.
“Knowing the city has the power to remove that, but leaves it, it affects whether they feel valued or not,” Smith said.
The sign was painted outside of headquarters in June 2020 shortly after George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020.
“We understand people wanted to put a message out, but the officers think it’s time for that to come up,” Smith said.
Current data show that 89 percent of shootings from last year in Durham remain unsolved. That’s why Smith said it is crucial for the city to recruit more officers so the department can solve more crimes and save lives.
“I think the messaging to the officers is very important today, they need the city’s support,” Smith said. “The Durham Police Department is a very good police department that is very well trained. We need to keep our officers here.”
CBS 17 reached out to the City of Durham in April about the FOP’s concerns regarding the “Defund” sign outside headquarters.
A city official responded and said that they had no plans to remove the sign at that time.