Victim advocate for Durham police speaks out about helping victims of violence as shootings near 900

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — So far this year in Durham, there have been 882 shooting incidents, 291 people have been shot, and 28 of those individuals have died, according to data from the Durham Police Department.

The number of people shot so far this year is up 40 percent from the 179 people who were shot this time last year.

Police data also shows 46 of those shot so far this year have been children ages 17 and younger.

Many of the shootings have been drive-by shootings or rolling shoot outs and in some instances, innocent victims have been caught in the crossfire.

This includes Mavis Peaks’ 10-year-old son, Michael, who was shot on the way to his grandmother’s house near the intersection of Dearborn Drive and Apollo Street on Sept. 18.

“These bullets and what they can do to the body today, it just wreaks havoc,” Peaks told CBS 17.

While Michael is out of the hospital and healing day-by-day, Peaks said getting through the trauma has not been easy for her family.

“What took place, we still have some anxiety – even while driving,” Peaks said.

Behind every victim of gun violence this year in the Bull City, is a victim advocate with Durham police.

Jennifer Hinchey is one of three full-time victim advocates with the Durham Police Department.

In addition, DPD has a fourth advocate who specifically works on cold cases.

“We can help families and individuals work through their trauma from the time of their incident, all the way through the court process,” Hinchey said.

Hinchey said this year the victim advocates have been busy assisting hundreds of victims.

“As you know, crime has gone up here in Durham, so we are certainly servicing more people right now,” Hinchey said.

Hinchey said her role is to help victims know their rights, get access to emotional support, and to get financial assistance with hospital bills.

Lately, she said some of the victims she has helped have been children who have been shot.

“It’s particularly challenging to witness victims who are young children,” Hinchey said. “Certainly, if you’re a younger victim, they might need additional support. We work to collaborate with various community partners to get them connected with counseling services.”

While she said it is not easy helping these victims work through the trauma, she said their work is crucial as more people fall victim to gun violence in the Bull City and in other parts of the country.

“I truly believe that in our roles, we work to empower victims on their journey from a victim to a survivor,” Hinchey said.

For more information on the Durham Police Department’s Victim Services Unit go to the following links:

Victim Services Unit Information

Victim Services Unit Directory

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