Duke study points out disparities in how Durham police respond to and investigate shootings

Josh Chapin Image
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Durham police respond to shootings differently
The Duke study includes data collected from 2017 to 2021.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Duke University study, conducted over a four-year period shines a light on disparities in the way officers with the Durham Police Department (DPD) respond to deadly or non-deadly shootings.

According to the study, put together by the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law School, DPD was nearly three times more likely to make an arrest in a fatal shooting than in non-fatal ones. In addition, prosecution is more likely in homicide cases when arrests are made.

The new report looked at five years' worth of data from the city (2017-2021) and during that time, there were nearly 1,200 shooting victims, which comes out to about 200 incidents per year.

The study points out that while deadly and non-deadly shootings were similar in many respects, including the characteristics of victims, police investigations of non-deadly shootings resulted in an arrest in only 16% of cases, compared to 46% of shootings where someone was killed.

"The results are troubling not only because the system has failed to deliver justice but also because of the urgent need to prevent future gun violence in Durham," the study says.

Researchers also examined court data to assess the outcome of shooting cases after an arrest was made and found that 89% of fatal shootings and 70% of non-fatal shootings resulted in prosecution.

Phillip Cook who co-authored the study said the disparities are found in most cities and can be attributed in part to the fact that police give higher priority to solving homicide cases.

Durham Chief of Police Patrice Andrews, who requested the analysis in December 2021, told researchers the department is using the findings to help improve its arrest rate in non-deadly shootings.

DPD recently reorganized its criminal investigations division which includes changes to give higher priority to those types of cases.

District Attorney Satana Deberry praised the research for providing "important insight into a pressing issue in our community."

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Note: The news release states that Philip Cook was not compensated for his work, but the Wilson Center and Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy provided funding for research assistance.

Full study below

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