Durham News

Durham violent crime fell in 2013

Despite a 43 percent rise in homicides, Durham’s violent-crime rate continued its downward trend in 2013.

Last year the city had 30 homicides, up from 21 in 2012 and 26 in 2011. The total of major violent crime – homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery – though, fell from 1,721 incidents in 2012 to 1,625 last year: a drop of 5.6 percent.

Police Chief Jose L. Lopez reported those figures to the City Council Thursday in his department’s annual report.

Incidents of domestic violence were down from 306 in 2012 to 291 in 2014, with the largest decrease in aggravated assault

Property crime, however, was up 6 percent for the year, with burglary, larceny and vehicle theft all higher. Larceny had the sharpest rise, at 8 percent, with shoplifting accounting for 25 percent of the 6,818 incidents and thefts of auto parts and from motor vehicles accounting for a third of the total, Lopez said.

Overall, Durham’s crime rate went up from 5,075.22 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2012 to 5,267.88 per 100,000 residents in 2013. Last year’s rate, though, was still well below the 6,210.06 of 2008 and the 7,720.55 of 2003.

The 607 robberies in 2013 were the lowest number in more than 20 years, Lopez said.

Less serious “Part 2” crime, such as drug violations, DWI, vandalism, counterfeiting and embezzlement were also down, with a total of 8,524 cases in 2013 after 9,045 in 2012 and 8,820 in 2011.

Lopez was originally scheduled to make his report at the regular council meeting last Monday. The council called that meeting off due to an ice storm, and heard the report during a brief makeup meeting late Thursday afternoon.

Council members had no response other than thanking Lopez for the report, in which he remarked on several honors the department received last year.

Its forensic services division was the first in North Carolina accredited under new national standards, and the department as a whole received a gold standard assessment from the national Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies – a state first for law-enforcement agencies with more than 300 employees.

The special operations division seized 82 firearms, 742.14 grams of crack cocaine, 1,914.8 grams of powder cocaine, 1,948.7 grams of heroin and 2,514.8 grams of methamphetamine – the highest amount in four years.

In the Bull’s Eye area of Northeast Central Durham, a high-crime district police targeted for intense enforcement in 2007, violent gun crime fell 46 percent over the program’s six years, Lopez reported, with overall violent crime down 39 percent and prostitution calls down 61 percent.