DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – She’s been on the job for more than a month, but now Durham’s new police chief is officially sworn in. Chief Patrice Andrew’s swearing-in ceremony took place on North Carolina Central University’s campus Friday evening.
The ceremony was a homecoming for Andrews who spoke about her time as a student at NCCU and her nearly two decades in the Durham Police Department before becoming Morrisville’s Police Chief.
“I have a deep personal connection to the City of Durham and this police department, one that transcends easy work, hard work, long hours,” Andrews said. “It is this connection that drives me. The desire to restore our community and faith in our officers feeds my soul.”
Andrews is taking over during the city’s deadliest year on record, with more than 40 homicides in 2021. The total number of shootings, more than 730, is down from the 891 in 2020, according to numbers from the Durham Police Department.
Andrews said law enforcement is critical to changing those numbers, but called on the community, businesses, faith leaders, and grassroots organizations to help.
“Violent crime is no longer an issue that can be solved solely by the Durham Police Department, or by any police department,” Andrews said. “We know that violence is a symptom or result of a greater issue.”
She said the city is not immune from what she calls a mass exodus of officers and an increase in violent crime the past two years, pointing to the murder of George Floyd as the start of a change.
“This singular tragic moment, and others that followed, launched a global movement for reform in policing and calls for defunding law enforcement agencies across the country,” Andrews said. “This was the tipping point for our profession.”
Andrews is leading a department down 80 officers and said beyond pay, the “cornerstone” of recruitment and retention is officers being valued.
The Durham City Council will hear a proposal to raise officer pay during its January 6th work session.
Another task for Andrews is the homicide clearance rate, she said 67% of homicides this year have not been solved.
Durham’s newly elected Mayor Elaine O’Neal was sworn in on Monday. She was in attendance along with some Durham City Council Members, law enforcement officers, and other elected officials.