Violent crime in Durham dropped 28 percent in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period last year, Police Chief C.J. Davis told the City Council on Monday night.
If the trend continues, 2018 could see the Bull City reverse a steady climb in violent crime since 2013, when the number of homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults started a steady rise through 2017. After Davis announced the drop during her report Monday night, Mayor Steve Schewel interrupted her to say “that is a tremendous achievement.”
“That is a big one,” Schewel said. “I just want to congratulate you. I want to congratulate the other chiefs … and the entire department.“
Davis said they tried several different strategies to see what they could do with the resources they had. She also credited “the officers who are remaining vigilant and being visible.”
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From 2013 to 2017, the number of violent crimes per year rose from 1,627 to 2,259, according to Police Department statistics.
The first quarter of 2018 marked the first significant decrease when violent crime dropped 41 percent.
In the first six months of 2018, there were 818 violent crimes compared to 1,138 during that same time in 2017
In 2018 all the violent crime categories are down except for homicides, which are up 40 percent – 14 people killed in the first six months of the year compared to 10 during the same period last year.
Reported rapes dropped 11 percent to 570. Robberies dropped 36 percent to 276. And aggravated assaults dropped 25 percent 471.
In addition, property crime — burglary, larceny and vehicles thefts — dropped by 10 percent from 4,919 incidents to 4,421.
That drop includes a nearly 5 percent drop in burglaries (from 1,157 to 1,104), a 12 percent drop in larcenies (from 3,398 to 3,005), and 14 percent drop in vehicle thefts (from 364 to 312).
Overall, property and violent crime are down by 13.5 percent.
Davis cited a number of factors, including a renewed focus on uniform patrol staffing, successful apprehension of key repeat offenders, coordination with prosecutors, and increased community support.
Other successes include the community engagement unit that was formed earlier this year with 10 officers assigned to McDougald Terrace public housing community and now the Cornwallis Road community, also public housing.
In the first six months, reported violent crime in the McDougald Terrace dropped nearly 62 percent, Davis said. Other organizations, including the county-backed initiative Bull City United, is also doing work in the McDougald Terrace community.
There were 16 violent crimes at McDougald Terrace during the first six months of 2017 and six during that same time in 2018, according to numbers police.
Davis also said that citizen complaints are down 80 percent.
In 2017, there were 25 complaints and in 2018 there have been five.
City Councilman Charlie Reece said praised the deep community engagement by Davis and her team.
“Just the level of caring you bring to this job and the people of this city is truly extraordinary,” Reece said.
Schewel said Durham is in a place with policing that it hasn’t been in a long time.
Violent crimes and property crimes are is down, he said, while at the same time the city has reduced the criminalization of small acts through things like the misdemeanor diversion program for youth and a requirement for written authorization for consent searches.
“I think what that means we are doing is reducing violent crime and building trust in the community, and that is a sweet spot,” he said.