DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- In a passionate plea to the City Council on Tuesday, Durham minister Allen Jones spoke on behalf of the families and survivors coping with grief and loss.
"We felt alone and desperate," Jones said.
Jones lost his 18-year-old grandson, T.J., in a triple shooting in Burlington in 2019. The trauma of losing him still echoes four years later throughout his work as a mortician at the Ellis D. Jones Funeral Home in Durham.
"When it comes to your front door, it's not the same," Jones said. "This is 2023. I probably have prepared over that time, I think, it's fair to say about 100 young bodies and I still have to think about that."
The Durham Community Safety and Wellness Task Force is proposing the creation of the "Office of Survivor Care," which would cost at least $1 million to run for three years.
"It will give us the means, the opportunity, the tools to listen deeply to what survivors need and to serve those needs to the best of our ability," task force co-chair Marcia Owen said.
Often victims of crime hear the bad news from law enforcement and although Owen said they are trauma responders, it's not their primary duty.
"We need to have people who are trained, whose mission and purpose is to make sure that families who have, or are being notified of a violent death, is done properly and is done outside of the law enforcement system," Owen said.
So far this year, more than 200 people were shot in Durham, 42 of them fatally, according to the Durham Police Department.
ABC11's Safety Tracker shows the murder rate over the last 12 months is up 16% compared to the annual average over the last three years.
"We believe that healing people heal and hurt people hurt," Owen said.
"The overall goal of the Office of Survivor Care is to give care to those who have this unique grief and this unique pain and the unique emotions feelings and thoughts that violence creates. So it is an office that will be open to listening to survivors of violence, particularly gun violence, because that is the overwhelming source of our pain and to do what survivors have identified as their needs."
The proposal is one of 16 recommendations made by the task force as part of their final report.
The city manager will begin drafting a budget in January, which people can weigh in on starting in March.