"Sometimes we think we can be isolated from the violence in other parts of the city, but we are not isolated from that," Mayor Steve Schewel said. "We cannot rest until this violence is not happening anymore in Durham."
The mayor on Friday responded to another deadly week in the city, including three separate shootings in a 24 hour period. One man, 30-year-old Larry Wynne Jackson Jr, died, while six others were injured.
"We in the Durham Police Department refuse to accept this as normal and we remain committed to working tirelessly to investigate these violent acts and arrest those involved," Interim Police Chief Shari Montgomery asserted. "We continue to devote our resources in an effort to protect our community from senseless and reckless shootings."
As it works to prevent violence from becoming normal, however, DPD must deal with its own new normal of doing more with less; there remain more than 75 vacant positions.
"Policing was hard already," Schewel lamented. "And now with the atmosphere around policing in our nation, it's harder to get police officers. We have a significant staff shortage."
City officials are offering signing bonuses and promising take-home vehicles to recruits who live in the city, but their other previous actions may be complicating those efforts: the city has voted to eliminate or reassign five police positions this year and 15 next year. The former police chief, moreover, bolted the city earlier this year after the City Council rejected her recommendation for 72 new patrol officers (and a subsequent compromise offer).
"We have to be able to do two things at once," Schewel explained. "We have to effectively fight the crime but at the same time we have to never over-police in communities of color, and never have racially biased policing. We can do both of those things."