DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – While Durham city leaders have grappled with how to address the gun violence problem, police have made hundreds of arrests since the expansion of Durham Police’s gang unit in 2019.
According to data obtained by CBS 17, gang officers in the unit have made 388 arrests from December 2019 until now. In the last three months alone, gang officers from the unit responded to 461 calls from March 25 through June 25. That’s an average of five calls per day.
According to financial data obtained by CBS 17, the city spends $1,300,000 on the gang unit per year.
As CBS 17 has previously reported, former police Chief C.J. Davis called for the expansion of the gang unit after nine people were shot in Durham within a 36-hour-time span in late October 2019.
Durham City Council approved adding six positions to the existing gang unit, which brought the total of officers in the gang unit to 13.
In a previous interview from February 2020, Durham police said adding more officers to the unit allows them to catch suspects quicker than before.
CBS 17 requested an interview with Durham police about the arrests the gang unit has made, but has not heard back.
Hunter Glass, a former law enforcement officer and a consultant for street gangs, said that the data that shows 388 arrests have been made since 2019 shows how active Durham police are when investigating gang activity.
“Those numbers are exceptional compared to literally hundreds and hundreds of law-enforcement agencies that I’ve dealt with,” Glass said. “That shows me these guys are really on the ball and they’ve got all the players in motion. I would assure you if they’re that active, that tells you how big of a problem and it is.”
But, in the last year and a half in Durham, the number of shootings has skyrocketed.
In 2020, there was a 40-percent increase in the number of people shot with 318 people shot last year and 189 people shot in 2019.
So far this year 119 people have been shot, which is about the same amount as this time in 2020 when 117 people had been shot.
CBS 17 asked Glass if the gang unit is still effective if people are still getting shot at an alarming rate.
“It’s not possible for the gang unit to eradicate all of the gangs in Durham at one time. That would take more manpower than what they already have,” Glass said.
Glass said the community must do its part and speak up if they know something.
“The gang unit, obviously, is doing a great job, but it’s never going to go anywhere in the long run if they don’t have support from the public,” Glass said.
City leaders have said that some of the recent shootings have been gang-related, but they have not said how many.
At the time that Durham expanded its gang unit, city officials said 12 percent of the shootings in 2019 were gang-related.