Is Durham getting safer? These new crime stats detail the latest trends.

Look inside the new Durham Police Department headquarters

The new Durham Police Department headquarters and Emergency Communication Center is a $71.3 million complex that has been in the works since 2010.
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The new Durham Police Department headquarters and Emergency Communication Center is a $71.3 million complex that has been in the works since 2010.

Crime was down in Durham last year, both violent and property crimes, Durham Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis told the City Council on Monday night.

Violent crime was down by 13 percent compared to 2017 and at a four-year low, according to the 2018 crime report.

That includes homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. But taken separately, homicides increased in 2018 compared to 2017.

There were 32 homicides in the city last year, a 52 percent increase over the 21 homicides in 2017. But there were 42 homicides in 2016, making the three-year average 32 homicides.

Reported rapes were up 4 percent this past year, from 132 in 2017 to 138 last year.

Robberies were down 16 percent, from 855 in 2017 to 718 in 2018; and aggravated assaults were down 15 percent, from 1,256 to 1,073. Shootings were also down.


619 in 2018

729 in 2017

703 in 2016

Overall, crime is down 7 percent in the city.

Burglaries are at a 20-year low, Davis said, and saw a 5 percent decrease over 2017. Property crimes are down 6 percent overall.

Larcenies were down 7 percent, but vehicle thefts were up 7 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Davis said vehicle thefts are at a 10-year high.

“The most stolen vehicle again, you all know: the Honda Accord,” Davis said. She said that 37 percent of vehicle thefts had keys left in the vehicles.

The Durham Police Department has 526 sworn officers and 112 non-sworn employees.

Use of force complaints against police officers were down last year. There were 53 last year — five from citizens and 48 from the DPD — compared to 59 from DPD and 15 from citizens in 2017. Mayor Steve Schewel said he was impressed with how much the complaints have dropped.

Residents who commented on the report included Miguel Staten, the uncle of DeAndre Ballard. Ballard, an N.C. Central University student, was killed last year.

And a group of residents who described themselves as part of the New Black Panther Party said they would like “better services in the black community” and information about deaths of African-Americans, including Ballard.

Activist Victoria Peterson said despite the statistics presented by Davis, murder and shootings are “running rampant.”

Peterson said she wants to see 10 new police officers in her neighborhood, around Alston Avenue.

City Council member Charlie Reece noted that calls for service showed a decline, like the crime rate, he said.

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Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan covers North Carolina state government and politics at The News & Observer. She previously covered Durham for 13 years, and has received six North Carolina Press Association awards, including a 2018 award for investigative reporting.