Two weeks ago, we published the second installment in a four-part series from writer Matt Hartman on Durham’s upcoming municipal election. The story focused on the issues of crime, policing, and public safety and the impact those issues have had in the years past versus how much they’re on Durham voters’ minds today. Our readers had thoughts.

From reader Stephen Knill, via email:

First, I am a supporter of well designed, measurable community programs that go beyond traditional police work. I am also a supporter of making sure our police force understands we value what they do to keep us safe and compensate them accordingly in a highly competitive market.

The most interesting and disappointing thing about the HEART program (and Shot Spotter for that matter) is that it shows no tangible results from 2022’s efforts in the reports that helped get them an $8MM increase in funding. 

No direct reports on anything they actually did at the events they participated in, what their role was, or any results, either short term or long term. I’ve not found any qualitative data even telling the story of one stop and any success associated with it. If someone has one, please share.

This seems to be yet another City and/or County program where goals and results are tailored to what was done after the fact to show success rather than laying out tangible measurable objectives upfront and then reviewing them prior to approving or renewing to determining how the individual program will go forward (or not).  

The city and the county are both businesses (look at their budget!) and need to operate that way.

And from reader Fred S. Naiden, a professor emeritus at UNC-Chapel Hill, via email:

The second installment of this useful series stops just short of asking several questions. As this article says, having more police or more social services requires more tax revenue for the City of Durham, and those paying this additional revenue will be newly arriving urban professionals and their employers—in a word, the agents of gentrification.  How will Black Durham leaders with either Duke or NC Central degrees respond? Some of these leaders have very vocally opposed gentrification. Others have been less vocal, if not silent. Some have spoken of “development” and not “gentrification,” but these phenomena overlap. 

Poor Black and Brown tenants often find that  “development” leads to eviction. How much work are leaders doing to help the Democrats gain control Raleigh and change the laws for landlords and tenants so that eviction becomes less common? Other questions are for those leaders who in the past have proposed abolishing the Durham police. What public-safety policy will help the Democrats in Raleigh? Abolition of the state police? Community control of city police, as in Chicago?  Other nostrums?  

Be sure to check out the third installment in Hartman’s series that takes a look at the impact of housing, development, and SCAD in Durham—and how those issues could affect the upcoming election—on page 9 of our paper this week.

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