Durham crime at 23-year low

jwise@newsobserver.comMarch 5, 2013 



— The city’s overall crime rate in 2012 took a steep drop from the year before, and was down nearly a third from a decade earlier, Police Chief Jose L. Lopez said Monday night.

“Total ... crime was at a 23-year low, the lowest it’s been since 1989,” when Durham’s population was about half what it is now, Lopez said, giving his annual crime report to the City Council.

“Congratulations,” Councilman Steve Schewel said.

Lopez said the number of violent crimes rose .5 percent, because of increases in rapes and aggravated assaults. Homicides and robberies, the other categories under violent crime, were down from the previous year, and the city’s violent-crime rate per 100,000 population was down from 734 to 728.

Durham’s overall rate last year was 5,082 crimes per 100,000 population in 2012. In 2011, the rate was 5,577 per 100,000, and in 2002 the rate was 7,480 per 100,000.

“A tremendous drop when you think about all the people who are not being robbed and hurt,” Schewel said.

According to figures Lopez presented, there were 21 homicides in 2012, down from 26 in 2011. Sixteen people were arrested on murder charges, eight of them teenagers. Juvenile arrests totaled 993, including 55 children under 13.

Among the year’s high points for his department, Lopez mentioned discovery of a “chop shop” in Durham with dozens of stolen vehicles. The case, he said, is being prepared for federal prosecution. He also mentioned creation of a Police Athletic League with a mentoring program as well as sports teams, and an effort to strengthen police relationships with leaders in the faith community.

“It is refreshing to hear the police department does more than fight crime and chase criminals,” Mayor Bill Bell said. “That’s all a part of trying to make our community better.”

Wise: 919-641-5895

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