Federal agencies assist Durham police, sheriff’s office as crime surges

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As the number of shootings surge in the Bull City, federal agencies are assisting local law enforcement with current investigations and violent gun crime prevention.

According to recent data from Durham Police, shooting incidents are up 40 percent from last year.

So far this year there have been 689 shooting incidents, which is up from the 495 shootings incidents Durham saw this time last year.

Since Sept. 1, 19 people have been shot in Durham and several other homes and cars have also been hit by stray bullets.

“The shootings that are occurring in Durham are at unprecedented levels,” Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said during the City of Durham’s Recovery and Renewal Task Force meeting on Friday morning. “This is something that in my 30 plus years in Durham, we have not witnessed this.”

Birkhead said COVID-19 may be to blame for some of these shootings.

“We cannot arrest our way out of this,” Birkhead said. “We have to find a way to address this gun violence and we may have to employ the assistance of our federal partners.”

CBS 17 reached out to the Durham County Sheriff’s Office to get more information on what exactly Sheriff Birkhead meant by this statement.

DCSO officials would not give specific details, but they said they already have partnerships with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

DCSO officials said they are not seeking anything different from when they work with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners on a regular basis.

CBS 17 reached out to the FBI, ATF, and the DEA to find out how these agencies may be assisting Durham Police and the Durham County Sheriff’s Office with the recent shooting investigations.

Special Agent Corey Ray with ATF said in an email that their agency has already assigned three special agents and three task force officers to work directly with the city of Durham and Durham County on fighting gun crime.

In addition, ATF and local authorities have partnered together to implement a bullet tracing system called the NIBIN system.

The National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) system has been set up in Durham to help identify crime trends and shooters tied to multiple cases.

Through NIBIN, the agencies collect shell casings at the scene of a crime and enter those casings into a national database. When these casings match, it helps law enforcement tie a firearm to a shooter and it helps build strong cases against violent offenders.

A spokesperson with the FBI told CBS 17 that members of the FBI Raleigh-Durham Safe Streets Task Force were able to help arrest three men in connection with a recent shooting in Durham.

FBI officials said the Sheriff’s Office works with their agents on a daily basis.

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