'It's about action:' Durham sheriff explains anti-gun violence initiative

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Durham County Sheriff's Office has launched an initiative in direct response to a recent string of shootings in Durham.

The Sheriff's Targeted Enforcement Program is a collaboration with local, state, and federal partners in targeting drugs, gang activity, and gun violence.

"This is not about overpolicing. This is about being very strategic and very targeted about going after those individuals who are engaging in gun violence and the high-profile crimes we've experienced over the past few weeks," explained Sheriff Clarence Birkhead.

Thursday night and Friday morning, which Birkhead described as "phase one," authorities arrested eight people, the majority of which on either drug charges or outstanding warrants.

"We cannot do this by ourselves. We need the extra set of eyes and ears. And again like I said a couple of weeks ago, there are people in the community who know who these individuals are," explained Birkhead, as he continued to ask for the public's help in addressing violence.

Signs, in both English in Spanish, posted in the Durham County Courthouse offer people up to $500 in cash for information leading to the arrest and recovery of an illegal gun.

"I think we're past our tipping point. Now it's about action, it's about bringing our community together, it's about martialing out resources and attacking the crime that's plaguing our city. I don't need to wait for another youth to be killed. I don't need to wait for another house or vehicle to shot up. People are telling me they're having to sleep on the floor, jump in the bathtub, and just uncomfortable every time the sun goes down. And to me, that's unacceptable," Birkhead said, responding in part to the deadly shooting less than two weeks ago of 9-year old Z'yon Person, a case which has outraged many in the city.

Friday afternoon, Durham Police announced three arrests over the past week involving weapons in investigations led by the department's Organized Crime Division.

If you have any information about any of these shootings or about an illegal gun, call Durham Crimestoppers at (919) 683-1200 or the Durham County Sheriff's Office tip line at (919) 560-7151.
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