New program aims to get illegal guns off of Durham streets

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Durham police officers and community leaders are taking to the streets Wednesday night to combat crime.

Durham police officers and community leaders are taking to the streets Wednesday night to combat crime. A new program aimed at getting illegal guns off the street will be their focus.

The department launched its GunStoppers program a month ago.

Armed with posters and fliers, teams of people will canvass neighborhoods to help spread the word. The program offers up to $500 for information leading to an arrest or the seizure of an illegal firearm.

"We all have to live and work here and we should want Durham to be a better and safer place," said Brandon Parrott with Durham CrimeStoppers. "The only way we can do that is to come together as a community."

Durham's police chief delivered a sobering first quarter crime report to city leaders on Monday. He said there's been a 22 percent increase in murders, robberies and aggravated assaults compared to this time last year. Recent drive-by shootings are counted among the 325 aggravated assaults so far this year.

Officials say a significant number of the reported violent crimes are gun related. GunStoppers is poised to change that by offering callers the same privacy as CrimeStoppers. When they call (919) 683-1200 they do not have to provide their name.

"Whether they have information about someone with an illegal firearm or whether it's information about any of the shootings, homicides or break-ins, we're here to take information and protect their anonymity," explained Parrott.

The police department is also focusing on specific neighborhoods as part of a 90-day crime prevention campaign. There's an increased police presence along South Roxboro Road, East Weaver Street, Cornwallis Road, Liberty Street and McDougald Terrace, according to a department spokesperson.

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