Police Update from Lt. Cloninger

By Ron Gallagher

Lt. Nick Cloninger, deputy commander of the Durham Police Department’s District 2, which covers Trinity Park, joined the May TPNA meeting to talk about crime and safety in the neighborhood.  He covered several topics.

Larcenies and burglaries:  On April 8, the DPD apprehended a known youth offender who lives nearby with his grandfather. A rash of home break-ins and similar crimes had been happening in the northern part of the neighborhood in March and early April.  After April 8, these types of crimes fell off precipitously. 

Inactive property crimes:  After checking on some other property crimes that had been reported in Trinity Park, Lt. Cloninger said some of them turned into inactive cases because victims did not return investigators’ phone calls. Sometimes, Cloninger said, people appear to want a police report filed to back up an insurance claim, but aren’t interested after that’s done. 

Shooting near Watts Street Baptist Church:  According to Lt. Cloninger, this shooting late on April 1 involved people in two cars who knew each other and happened to encounter each other there, but had no connection to the neighborhood. Neither side was willing to file a complaint against the other, and police cannot take any action on their own initiative because no felony-level crime was involved, he noted. Too often, he said, someone who is a victim of street violence one time was an attacker in another incident, and no one is willing to help police prosecute anyone.

Street racing: Lt. Cloninger said police have not yet come up with workable options to break up the street racing of groups of unlicensed off-road four-wheelers and motorbikes. He reported two factors: 1) the motorcycle/car groups like to intimidate neighborhoods all over the city (not just Trinity Park). If police are in the area and try to intervene, that is really what these groups want: videos of themselves that they take via Go Pro-style cameras and post to social media, showing them escaping the police. DPD has a strict “no chase” policy, except for violent crime, because chases can too easily lead to crashes or other incidents.  This street racing is not in the violent crime category.  2) Police do try to seize and tow vehicles when they can, but that does not seem to be a deterrent.  City police, the county sheriff’s office, and the State Highway Patrol are trying to come up with strategies to break up the racing.  They are following similar issues in other cities and looking for solutions that have worked elsewhere. 

Package theft:  Lt. Cloninger was asked about porch package thefts and his thoughts and recommendations regarding the placement of decoys by residents. He said they sometimes put decoys in parked, unlocked cars or on porches to see if someone takes the bait, but he does not recommend that residents do that.

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