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Homicides spike in Durham, as overall violent and property crimes fall

Durham Police Department
Durham Police Department jwall@newsobserver.com

Crime is down in Durham this year, despite a spike in homicides.

The Police Department’s latest crime report was presented at the City Council meeting on Monday by Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis.

There were 24 homicides in Durham when the third quarter of 2018 ended Sept. 30. At the same time in 2017, there were 16 homicides. That’s a 50 percent increase.

The department website, meanwhile, shows another two homicides, for a total of 26, as of Nov. 10. The most recent was Friday when Zykari Rhone, 18, was found killed on Dowd Street.

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Davis said the department is not where it wants with the homicide rate. The increase “has to do with our gang-involved activity and so on,” she said.

All told, violent crime is down from last year.

Robberies fell 23 percent, with 491 reported through Sept. 30 compared to 638 reported for the same time in 2017. Aggravated assaults fell 16 percent, with 784 assaults through Sept. 30 compared to 935 at the same time in 2017.

Council member Charlie Reece said the crime rate going down while the population is going up “is a testament to our entire [police] department.”

Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton called the report “encouraging.”

Property crime

Property crime in Durham is down 5 percent so far this year compared to last year.

Burglaries are at a 10-year low, according to the report. There have been 1,682 burglaries in Durham so far this year compared to 1,738 at this time in 2017 and 1,864 at this time in 2016. This year’s drop is 3 percent.

Larcenies are also down, with a 7 percent decrease. There have been 4,992 through Sept. 30 versus 5,379 for the same time period in 2017.

However, vehicle theft rose 9 percent through Sept. 30, with 627 vehicles stolen in 2018 compared to 574 in in the same time period in 2017.

Davis said that Honda Accords are again the most stolen car. And of vehicles stolen, more than 40 percent had keys left in the vehicle or the engine running, she said. Davis said some drivers start their cars to warm them up in cold weather.

“This is not a good idea,” Davis said. “Every time you think about getting into a warm car, just think about the car may not be there when you go outside.”

Response time goal

Durham police have not yet reached the department’s goal of a 5.8-minute response time to emergency calls. The average response time from January through September this year was 6.03 minutes. Police were on the scene of more than half of their calls in under five minutes.

DPD by the numbers

As of the end of third quarter, there were 532 sworn officers and 109 non-sworn officers in the department.

A new Durham Police Department headquarters opened on East Main Street in October.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563; @dawnbvaughan
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