Organizers in Durham call for police reform after deaths of Tyre Nichols and Darryl Williams

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Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Durham organizers call for change after police custody deaths
The group, Durham Beyond Policing, held a press conference to address police accountability today.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- In the wake of the Trye Nichols death and the recent in-custody death of Darryl Williams in Raleigh, organizers in Durham are calling for change.

The group, Durham Beyond Policing, is holding a press conference to address police accountability today.

There are calls to expand the Holistic Empathetic Assistance Response Team, or HEART, where individuals will work alongside first responders on calls and provide behavioral health assistance.

Durham mom Shanise Hamilton says she could have used that kind help when she was taken into custody and deemed suicidal.

"Being transported to the hospital in the back of a police car did not relieve any of my panic or stress, it intensifies it," said Hamilton. "When I arrived at the hospital, an officer sat outside my door, again, for my protection. His presence scared me and made me feel as though I had done something wrong, when in fact what I really needed what support."

The group also wants the controversial technology, ShotSpotter, to come to an end.

Community members feel it's invasive.

"It really supports a culture of fear and suspicion and distrust of Durham residents to have this kind of surveillance technology (that's) watching us 24/7," said Durham Beyond Policing member Danielle Purifoy. "We have a map approximating where the sensors are and they are always targeted in communities that are disproportionality black and brown, and what is does also is increase the likelihood of these community encountering police."

Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews says she has a neutral position on the technology and the Department is conducting a pilot initiative to evaluate if ShotSpotter is something police should continue to utilize in the city.

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