Police Chief Jose Lopez told the city council Thursday that Durham’s rates of homicide and rape were down compared with the first nine months of 2007, but increased incidents of robbery and assault pushed the city’s overall rate of violent crime to an 8 percent rise in 2008.
Two homicides in October have raised the city’s
2008 total to 18. That's less than this time last year, but Mayor Pro-tem Cora Cole-McFadden was moved to wonder aloud whether
the murders could have been prevented.
“The only thing we can do is really get serious about the drug problem
here in Durham,” Lopez said, primarily by providing more inpatient
treatment for addicts.
“The problem is finding beds,” he said. “Although we have a very engaged community, they need to get further engaged in these drug issues.”
Lopez gave his monthly crime report at the council's work session.
The 148 violent crimes reported in September 2008, were below the September 2007 total of 189, and property crime, such as burglary and car theft, were down 4 percent from 2007.
But Lopez said that, with cooling weather, “More people are leaving cars running, which invites theft.”
Honda Accords continue to be the most frequently stolen automobiles in Durham, he said, “we’re still having numerous breakins to steal copper and other metals,” and “We’ve had quite a few intances in church parking lots wheree people will leave their purses in plain view and somebody will come by and snatch it.”
Crime by young people is down overall, and police are increasingly on watch for truants, Lopez said.
Council member Howard Clement thanked Lopez for a 28 percent drop in crimes over the last year in the "Bull's Eye" area of North East Central Durham his department targeted for intense surveillance in 2007.
"We take away the symptom," Lopez replied. "But law enforcement isn’t the cure”