Crime numbers down in Durham, public still frustrated

The City of Durham released new crime data for the third quarter Monday.
December 16, 2013 8:53:53 PM PST
The City of Durham released new crime data for the third quarter Monday.

While the numbers appear to be good, leaders and residents are still frustrated.

The news was good from Durham's top cop.

The overall crime rate in the city is down 8 percent compared to last year, despite a slight uptick in homicides, rapes, and robberies.

However, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez was barely finished with his presentation, when City Council heard the heated frustrations from the public.

"We've had too many murders, too many deaths, too many shootings...I'm going to ask the city council publically what I've asked the mayor privately- we've got to get a new police chief in this community," said community activist Victoria Peterson.

Lopez has been under fire for months after several high-profile controversies in his department.

The city is investigating charges of racial profiling, violence, cover-ups, and the November death of 17-year-old Jesus Huerta while in Durham police custody. That accident sparked a violent protest outside police headquarters and was fresh in the minds of city leaders, some asking for more transparency from police.

"People want to know the truth of why he was able to have a gun in the police car in headquarters parking lot while handcuffed- we have to let the people know what happened in that case and let the chips fall where they may," said Durham City Council member Steve Schewel.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell and Lopez laid some of the blame in the delay of controversial cases at the feet of legislature, not enough funding for the SBI.

However, Lopez hit a familiar refrain.

"We need this community to help us, it can't be the police all the time," Lopez said.

He wants more help from the public to identify suspects of violent crime.

"I think a lot of people are frustrated, but I think the frustration should be a lot more about walking out on the street and having someone firing at someone else, or one of their loved ones," Lopez said.

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