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Report IDs 12 areas in Durham most affected by crime

Durham, NC
Dave DeWitt
Durham, NC

Key findings from the 2021 Durham Gang Assessment Report show that at least 12 census tracts around the center of Durham have excessively high rates of violence.

The report comes from the Durham Gang Reduction Strategy Steering Committee which met Wednesday to discuss preliminary study results.

“Over half of homicides and aggravated assaults in the city of Durham occurred in these 12 census tracts,” the draft report states. Violence exposure in these areas is exacerbated by extreme poverty and exposure to other social vulnerabilities that have remained mostly unchanged since 2014.”

Some of these social vulnerabilities include unemployment and poverty, explained committee member Hunter Boehme.

"These areas tend have lower education attainment, usually measured by GED or high school diploma, and single parent households,” said Boehme, who’s also an assistant professor of criminal justice at North Carolina Central University.

According to the draft report, young people in Durham experience a high level of exposure to risk factors for gang involvement, including substance use. … family gang involvement, victimization, and exposure to violence.”

Additionally, the report surveyed 40 current and former gang members in Durham, asking for ideas on how to address gang activity.

"A lot of the respondents stated mentorship programs,” said Boehme. “[This] may be associated with the single parent households, because a lot of single parent households are working two jobs, so the parent may not be available."

In the assessment, respondents “described low levels of satisfaction with the current response to gangs.”

The final gang assessment will be released publicly next month. Local officials intend to use its findings to inform policies.

Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.
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