Durham police chief finalists make their pitches

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Nearly every seat inside of City Hall and audience members listened intently as two finalists pleaded their case to become Durham's next police chief. Atlanta Deputy Police Chief Cerelyn Davis and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Major Michael Smathers are vying for the job.

The candidates were peppered with questions Wednesday night at a forum.

A main concern was the finalists' stance on community policing in a diverse city.

"We need to compare our own selves, ship-to-ship and work unit to work unit. It's a multi-layered approach," Smathers said.

"We need to set up checks and balances to ensure that you don't have officers that are participating in bias space profiling," Davis said.


The hopefuls also took positions on community policing.

"(It's important that) the relationships are sincere and that they are sustaining relationships and that our officers understand the very specific needs and are empathic to different types of communities," Davis said.

"I don't need to tell you how to police your community. I need to hear that back from you and hear your concerns and hear the fears that you might have," Smathers said.

The high crime rate was on the minds of many audience members.

So far this year, there have been nine murders and 61 shootings.

Mayor Bill Bell tells ABC11 he hopes whoever comes in can make headway in bringing the crime rate down.

"The biggest issue is mandating a rapport with the police department and the community. That's the biggest issue. I think if we can get that done, all the other things will take place," Bell said.

City Manager Tom Bonfield will make a decision by the end of the month. The new chief will be joining the force in May.

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