DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As the city of Durham continues to grapple with the problem with gun violence, one county program made up of violence interrupters and outreach workers is working to fight this problem.
Bull City United has been working in the community since 2016. The group is made up of some members who have a history in the criminal justice system and who are familiar with areas where gun violence is a problem.
These violence interrupters and outreach workers act as mediators in troubled communities and work to prevent shootings and other violence.
The group started with seven members who worked in two neighborhoods, McDougald Terrace and a neighborhood south of downtown near Fayetteville and Umstead streets.
In January 2021, Durham City Council voted to spend almost $1 million to expand the program and add 18 more workers so they could add four more neighborhoods where violence interrupters would work in.
CBS 17 reached out to the county last week and found that as of June 30, all 18 added positions have been filled, except for one supervisory position that will be filled soon.
County officials said violence interrupters and outreach workers are working in the following communities as part of the expansion: Bragtown, Cornwallis Road, the Golden Belt District, and an area south of downtown near the intersection of South Roxboro Street and Lakewood Avenue.
According to Bull City United’s latest quarterly report, since the expansion, they have conducted 864 mediations from July 2021 – March 2022.
According to a graph in the quarterly report, the number of gun shots wounds went down in the four recently added neighborhoods from November 2021 – March 2022 after violence interrupters started working in these communities.
CBS 17 reached out to Bull City United multiple times to talk more about their efforts to address crime in the community, but no one was available for an interview.
While Bull City United is working to address the problem, shootings are continuing in some of the six neighborhoods they cover.
CBS 17 spoke with Raven Shepherd, a Durham resident who lives in the Golden Belt district just east of downtown.
Shepherd showed CBS 17 where a bullet flew in through her bedroom wall last week on Sunday night when a shooting occurred in the street outside of her home.
“I’ve always heard gunshots or sirens and things like that, but it never in the past affected me,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd showed us where the bullet is still lodged in her bedroom wall.
She was not in her bedroom at the time of the shooting, but she said she is too scared to sleep in her own bed.
“It sucks I’m not able to sleep soundly in my own room anymore, and I don’t know when I’m going to be able to do that,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd lives in one of the four neighborhoods that Bull City United has expanded to in the last year.
She said she had not heard of the Bull City United program, and she is hoping this will help address the problem.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Shepherd said.
However, she said she would like to see more be done by the city and local officials to address the problem with gun violence in east Durham.
“I don’t really know what that would look like, but at least there is some action being taken,” Shepherd said. “I just kind of wish that it would have happened a long time ago.”
Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews said during a press conference in April the police department would be forming a second central unit focused on addressing the shootings in the city.
CBS 17 reached out to Durham Police for an update on how effective that unit has been, but we are still waiting to hear back.