Throughout 2020 there were passionate pleas and emphatic demands for local governments across the country to examine police operations within their jurisdictions. In response, Durham city officials began examining public safety and community wellness needs and evaluating if city resources were aligning. Initial work included analyzing 911 call data and developing recommendations for improving responses by law enforcement and other first responder agencies. Concurrently, a cross-department Community Safety and Wellness Task Force was created. The task force is charged with examining residents’ and communities’ public safety and wellness needs, educating residents on existing safety and wellness resources, and providing recommendations to enhance public safety and wellness that rely on community-based prevention, intervention, and re-entry services.
To support this work, Durham will partner with FUSE Executive Fellow Dwayne Campbell for one year to act as a liaison between City departments and the Community Safety and Wellness Task Force to ensure that community members inform the design of alternative responses to 911 calls. Dwayne will pilot new response strategies in Durham that can be scaled nationwide to drastically reduce law enforcement’s use in responding to emergency calls.