DURHAM, NC (WNCN) — As gun violence remains a problem in Durham, the Community Safety and Wellness Task Force is asking for city funding to hold “listening sessions” with gun violence survivors in hopes of better addressing the problem.
On Thursday afternoon, co-chairs Marcia Owen and Xavier Cason and Duke Health pediatric surgeon Henry Rice spoke at the Durham City Council working session on the gun violence issue and how holding listening sessions with survivors can help them, the victims to heal and help them city find a way to prevent future gunfights.
Owen said the Community Safety and Wellness Task Force is seeking $112,113 from the city to help facilitators who meet with gunshot wound survivors.
“By asking them and giving them at least eight hours of unbiased listening, they can ask that crucial question: ‘What needs to be done to make things as right as possible?'” Owen said.
That’s because Duke’s ER has seen a 52 percent increase in gunshot victims over the past two years.
In 2020, 318 people were shot dead in Durham, up from 189 in 2019, according to Durham Police.
Duke Hospital treated more than 215 gunshot wound victims in 2019 and 280 in 2020.
So far in fiscal year 2021, 393 survivors and victims of gunshot wounds have been transported to Duke Hospital, according to the Community Safety Task Force’s proposal.
Duke Health’s pediatric surgeon Henry Rice addressed the city council Thursday afternoon. He said he was working the night six youths were shot dead while riding in the stolen SUV on Mathison Street on December 13.
Rice said he was caring for the four surviving children who were shot.
“Honestly, I’m sick of taking bullets from kids, I don’t want to do that anymore,” Rice said. “I was struck by how commonplace these events have become. We just aren’t doing enough.”
While open to the idea of funding this new initiative, some city council members were also concerned about the timing of this proposal and whether it would put too much strain on the city’s Municipal Safety Department when it is still working to roll out other pilot programs.
“I’m not really inclined to dress them in anything else,” Durham Mayor Mark-Anthony Middleton told Pro Tem.
But other city council members said they didn’t want to wait too long before moving forward with this initiative, which could help address gun violence.
Javiera Caballero, a member of Durham City Council, said that if the community security department cannot do it, she needs to find another department that can.
“I urge my colleagues, while we may have to pause for some small details, I’m asking people to sit back and trust the people who are asking about this resource for now,” Caballero said.
The proposal was sent back to city officials for further consideration.
https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/durham-county-news/sick-of-taking-bullets-out-of-children-durham-task-force-proposes-listening-sessions-for-survivors/ “I’m sick of taking bullets from kids”; The Durham Task Force proposes “Listening Sessions” for survivors