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Durham violence interrupters have been conducting over 800 mediations to prevent shootings since the 2021 program expansion

DURHAM, NC (WNCN) — As the city of Durham continues to grapple with the problem of gun violence, a district program made up of violence interrupters and outreach workers is working to address the problem.

Bull City United has been working in the community since 2016. The group consists of a few members who have a history in the criminal justice system and are familiar with areas where gun violence is a problem.

These violence disruptors and outreach workers act as mediators in troubled communities, working to prevent shootings and other acts of violence.

The group began with seven members working in two neighborhoods, McDougald Terrace and a neighborhood south of downtown near Fayetteville and Umstead streets.

In January 2021, Durham City Council voted to spend nearly $1 million to expand the program and hire 18 more workers so they could add four more neighborhoods where violence arrest workers would work.

CBS 17 reached out to the county last week and found that as of June 30, all 18 additional positions had been filled, except for one supervisory position that will be filled soon.

County officials said violence interrupters and outreach workers are working as part of the expansion in the following communities: Bragtown, Cornwallis Road, the Golden Belt District and an area south of downtown near the intersection of South Roxboro Street and Lakewood Avenue.

According to Bull City United’s latest quarterly report, they have conducted 864 mediations since the July 2021 to March 2022 expansion.

According to a chart in the quarterly report, gunshot wounds in the four recently added boroughs fell from November 2021 to March 2022 after violent criminals began working in those communities.

CBS 17 has reached out to Bull City United several times to talk more about their efforts to fight crime in the community, but no one was available for an interview.

As Bull City United work to address the issue, shootings continue in some of the six boroughs they cover.

CBS 17 spoke to Raven Shepherd, a Durham resident who lives in the Golden Belt neighborhood east of downtown.

Shepherd showed CBS 17 where a bullet went through her bedroom wall on Sunday night last week when a shootout ensued on the street outside her home.

“I’ve always heard gunshots or sirens and things like that, but it’s never affected me in the past,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd showed us where the bullet still stuck in her bedroom wall.

CBS 17 Photo/Crystal Award

She was not in her bedroom at the time of the shooting, but said she was too scared to sleep in her own bed.

“It sucks that I can’t sleep soundly in my own room anymore and I don’t know when I’ll be able to,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd lives in one of the four neighborhoods that Bull City United have expanded into in the last year.

She said she hasn’t heard of the Bull City United program and she hopes it will help resolve the issue.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Shepherd said.

However, she said she would like the city and local officials to do more to address the gun violence problem in East Durham.

“I don’t really know what that would look like, but at least action is being taken,” Shepherd said. “I just kind of wish it had happened a long time ago.”

Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews said during a news conference in April the police department would form a second core unit focused on tackling the city’s shooting.

CBS 17 has reached out to the Durham Police Department for an update on how effective that unit has been, but we’re still awaiting feedback.

https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/durham-county-news/durham-violence-interrupters-do-800-mediations-to-help-prevent-shootings-since-2021-program-expansion/ Durham violence interrupters have been conducting over 800 mediations to prevent shootings since the 2021 program expansion

Dais Johnston

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