Durham County

Durham police to re-evaluate how they tell you when danger lurks

Durham Police Department sign.
Durham Police Department sign. cwarrenhicks@heraldsun.com

Jeremy Thornhill wanted answers and now, the Durham Police Department will reevaluate how it tells people when crimes occur.

“We will certainly use this as an opportunity to evaluate our communication protocols to ensure that information provided to the public is both accurate and timely,” police spokesman Wil Glenn wrote in an email Friday.

Thornhill, a Burch Avenue resident, had written to the City Council earlier this week, upset over the Police Department’s failure to notify him and his neighborhood about a nearby kidnapping last weekend.

“I am aware that crimes happen and cannot always be prevented,” Thornhill wrote. “I do not write to you regarding the occurrence of the crime itself, but rather the extremely poor response to it on the part of the Durham Police Department.”

City Councilman Steve Schewel emailed Thornhill, saying he had spoken to City Manager Thomas Bonfield and Police Chief C.J. Davis about the incident and that the matter was under review.

“I know how this event must have rocked your neighborhood,” Schewel wrote.

“Know that all of us view the protection of our residents and excellent police response as a very high priority,” he continued. “We need to hold our police force to a very high standard in this regard – and I know that Chief Davis believes that as well and will take every necessary action to see that we do.”

Schewel told Thornhill that police would issue a public report on their handling of the incident, and the response came Friday evening around 6 p.m.

Rapid developments

Glenn released a summation of Rollin Anthony Owens Jr.’s four day crime spree that ended with his arrest at the Target on Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard and his being charged with eight counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, three counts of assault by pointing a gun and nine counts of second-degree kidnapping.

“Although investigators were in the process of trying to analyze and verify rapidly developing information, we understand and appreciate the concerns surrounding these incidents,” Glenn stated.

According to police, a father and his two young children were at Burch Avenue Park when a man approached them around 10:45 a.m. Saturday, June 17, and asked for money. The father was putting his children into a car when the suspect pressed a gun to his head and forced him to drive to an ATM and withdraw money.

In his letter Thornhill wrote that he first heard “rumors” about the kidnapping on Monday through his neighborhood mailing list.

“My wife called the DPD non-emergency number and spoke with an officer who provided incorrect information: he said the crime happened at night; it did not,” Thornhill wrote. “He said that the DPD had apprehended the suspect; they had not. He said that the neighborhood need not be concerned; clearly, we needed to be.”

Thronhill wrote, “It was clear by then that the DPD was not providing useful information to our community.”

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks