The chief said there has been a 36-percent increase in violent crime and a 10-percent increase in property crime during the first quarter of the year.
"We are very concerned about the increase in crime during the first quarter and have focused on several particular areas. We were especially concerned about the increase in aggravated assault so we organized a Violent Incident Response to focus on the locations where incidents have occurred and to target the people we believed to be involved," said Lopez in a statement. "Reducing crime is one of my department's top priorities and we will continue to work closely with the community in an effort to reduce crime."
Mayor Bill Bell called it a bad start to the year. He said the city needs to find a way to do better.
"We just aren't off to a good start. I say that to you and I say that to the community also," said Bell. "We've just got to find a way to do better. We really do. This is a bad start as far as I'm concerned."
By the numbers, six people were murdered so far this year, which is compared to four victims at this time last year. Police say those homicides may be up as retaliation for the rise in aggravated assaults. Robberies are up slightly with nine more cases than last year. The only decrease was in rape, with 25 cases this year compared to 30 last year.
The sudden rise in crime follows a 14-year low reported late last year.
Lopez says his department has teamed up with other law enforcement agencies to target specific neighborhoods and known offenders to help prevent crime.
"We're hopeful the community can further help us identify individuals so that we can continue to battle it," said Lopez.
However, there's also been another battle brewing. The Durham Police Department has also been under fire for three officer-involved shootings.
Protestors took to the streets following the death of a Durham teenager in the back of a squad car at police headquarters.
The department has also spent months defending itself against allegations of racial bias and racial profiling, which begs the question -- has all the controversy been a distraction to crime fighting?
"These officers have not allowed themselves to be distracted, and they're really working towards eliminating the crimes that are bringing these numbers up," said Lopez.