DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham police announced arrests in two separate murder cases that took place at city parks and recreation facilities.
Those incidents happened just weeks apart.
Durham police made an arrest in the killing of 53-year-old Derke Clay at Long Meadow Park Tuesday afternoon. Douglas Jones is charged with first-degree murder and is currently being held in the Durham County jail with no bond.
It’s the second murder that’s taken place on city parks and rec grounds in less than a month.
“I believe all of the stuff about Durham; Durham is a city on the rise,” Mayor Pro Tempore Mark-Anthony Middleton said. “But we can’t be measured by the size of our buildings. It’s by how well the most vulnerable of our citizens are doing, particularly our young people.”
On Tuesday, Durham police also announced the arrests of two people in connection with the shooting death of 21-year-old Taqon Blake in the parking lot of W.D. Hill Recreation Center back on September 27.
In that shooting, Messiah Harvin-Cleveland is charged with first-degree murder and a second person is charged with accessory after the fact.
Middleton, a Ward 2 Council member, suggests a solution at the parks could be to implement directed patrols from law enforcement.
“Our police department can, not forever, but for a while focus on that area,” he said. “Of course, there are resource issues. It’s a big city. There are a lot of areas. But we can issue directed patrols.”
Parks and recreation facilities close at certain times to deter criminal activity.
CBS 17 reached out to the city to discuss the safety issues at area parks.
Culture & Community Manager Mary Unterreiner said in a statement:
“The safety of our community and staff are our first priority, and so we are always concerned to hear reports about violent acts in the parks. While we continue to work and communicate closely with Durham Police Department on response, enforcement, and security, one of the best deterrents of crime in parks is activation through parks and recreation programming and events, as well as design strategies like Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). CPTED uses specific design principles to work toward deterring criminal behavior while positively impacting the image and usage of an area or facility, and it is a major focus in the future planning for both Long Meadow Park and the grounds of W.D. Hill Recreation Center. Just last week, our staff met on site at W.D. Hill to brainstorm the scope of planned improvements on the grounds and how CPTED recommendations would inform the process. Additionally, as part of the Splash & Play project, Long Meadow and East End Parks will soon have designs for future renovations that include these principles. Through these measures, we’re continuously working to play a preventative role in keeping parks safe. As always, we encourage people to call 911 if they witness illegal or criminal activity.”