Northeast Central Durham residents could have new neighbors. City officials are deciding where the new Durham Police Department headquarters will be built and two of three proposed locations are in NECD.
The two locations are 600 East Main Street and Merrick Street where the Fayette Place apartments once stood.
Jesse Burwell, Assistant Chief of Durham Police Operations Support, said the process for choosing the site is still underway.
According to Burwell the current headquarters was built in the 1950s and was not designed as a police headquarters but as an insurance building.
“It’s falling apart,” said Burwell referring to the current headquarters on West Chapel Hill Street.
“I am on the committee that will make recommendations about the sites to the city manager and he will review our recommendations and then propose them to the City Council and Mayor for a vote,” said Burwell.
The committee is using different criteria to make its decision. Burwell says that finances and the location of the site in relation to major thoroughfares are among the biggest factors.
“I don’t have any data on whether crime is lower around a police headquarters, crime is lowered based on how resources are deployed in the field,” said Burwell.
Five year Cleveland-Holloway resident Matt Dudek has his doubts about both sites.
“The Main St. location could cause damage to the connectivity between East Durham and downtown. I would be okay with the Fayette Place location as long as the immediate neighbors were okay with it,” said Dudek.
“I would like for them to rebuild the current headquarters on W. Chapel Hill St. I don’t think residents want to feel like they live in an area that seems like it has a military occupation.”
For many years East Durham has had the reputation of being a hot bed of crime in the city. In 2007 DPD started “Operation Bullseye” which aimed to bring down crime in an area of two square miles.
The operation used federal funds to pay officers overtime to work the area. Some officers were ordered not to answer 911 calls to maintain a constant dialogue with the community. The crime rate went down substantially during that two year time period.
Data ranging from the beginning of the 2013 calendar year to the end of October shows that the area in and around NECD is still in need of assistance.
In district one, which encompasses NECD, there have been close to 900 reported cases of larceny/theft, nearly 375 reported burglaries, around 400 reported cases of assault, 90 motor vehicle thefts and 6 homicides. It is important to stress that these statistics are not solely for NECD as district one also includes areas outside NECD.
NECD’s population is around 2800 people and it is only .629 square miles.
“Operation Bullseye” has made a case that more police in NECD could vastly improve conditions in the area citing a 38.6 percent decline in violent crime in the target area over a two-year period.
Assistant Chief Burwell said, “Headquarters is not an operational entity. No calls are dispatched from headquarters. There are five districts and each district has a substation where officers report for their shifts and that is where 911 calls are directed.”
Councilwoman Cora Cole-McFadden, who represents Ward 1 where NECD lies, will vote on the location of the new headquarters. The decision will be made whether to refurbish the already standing headquarters or move it entirely to one of the NECD locations.