A Safer Durham
We must take meaningful immediate steps to stop the criminal activity of gangs in Durham County and stop those providing firearms to gang members and juveniles. A determined focus on the chronic offenders and gang leadership who influence the younger members is one of those steps. There are several organizations working to address the root causes of crime in Durham County. For the safety of our communities right now, we must also act with clear purpose. Maria will help lead this effort which is central to providing safe communities for ALL our residents. As Durham County Sheriff, Maria will:
Prioritize gun-related crimes and those who illegally possess guns. She will revoke gun permits of those who supply firearms to felons, gang members, and juveniles. She will fight for federal charges for those buying firearms on behalf of felons and violent gang members.
Establish a Gang Prevention Unit that will keep a laser-focus on gangs, the illegal firearms trade by gang members, and gang use of social media that drives violence.
Violent gang members commit a disproportionate amount of non-violent crimes like auto theft to use stolen cars in later drive-by shootings. Gang members are responsible for a disproportionate amount of armed robberies for quick cash and vehicle break-ins to find guns. They are chronic offenders who believe that non-shooting related charges in Durham County are downgraded or dismissed. Maria will fight for the legal system to hold violent gang members accountable, regardless of their charged offense, in a manner that serves as a deterrence to future criminal activity, ensures community safety, and provides for a dedicated support network that helps the individual break the cycle of re-offending.
Support no-cash bail for low-level, non-violent crimes that are NOT gang or gun-related, criminal activities. Maria DOES BELIEVE that dangerous gang members should be detained pending resolution of their charges to protect the community.
Break ties with ICE once and for all. The current Sheriff promised not to cooperate with ICE. So why does the Sheriff have a Deputy assigned to an ICE task force? Maria will cleanly break ties with ICE and reassign the Deputy from the ICE Task Force to the ATF to focus on our priority of gun crimes.
Service Beyond the Call
There are times when young children suffer the trauma of seeing their parents arrested. Immigrant communities are sometimes the target of crime. People suffering from substance addiction are detained for non-violent offenses. As Durham County’s Sheriff, Maria will fight for meaningful support for those experiencing traumatic events. She will help inform, educate, and protect marginalized communities. She will make sure those who are involved in minor non-violent offenses are diverted to treatment and counseling, not locked up and forgotten in jail. As Durham County Sheriff, Maria will:
Seek the inclusion of Violence Interrupters during the initial intake of gang members into the legal system. She will work to help Violence Interrupters remain in contact with the gang members, to provide mentoring and a safety net.
Set up a Crisis Response Unit that will provide support and follow up with those affected by traumatic events. The Unit will assist those experiencing crisis with referrals to appropriate agencies for care. The Unit will participate in Co-Response Teams to provide meaningful response and support to those experiencing a mental health crisis. Maria will seek volunteers from the community who have experienced crisis to help staff this unit.
Establish an Outreach Office that serves the diverse communities of Durham County, and is staffed with bilingual personnel and community volunteers. The office will collaborate with the Criminal Justice Resource Center to stay informed, and connect those in need, including families of at-risk youth and gang members, with available social service-based resources.
The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for serving tenant eviction notices and is constantly in contact with families losing their homes. Maria will make sure renters facing eviction are provided assistance with available resources to avoid eviction...Secure, stable, and sustainable housing is a right for all our residents.
Transparency and Diversity
Transparency in operations, including the Detention Center, fiscal management, diversity in the workforce, and productive use of resources are necessary to serve our communities effectively and efficiently. As Durham County Sheriff, Maria will:
Equip all Deputies with body-worn cameras to increase transparency with the community.
Work with communities suffering from violence and develop intervention strategies they support to end the violence. She DOES NOT believe in over-policing and WILL NOT support over-policing of Durham’s neighborhoods.
Take steps to improve the diversity of the Sheriff’s Office. She will make sure the Sheriff’s Office better reflects Durham’s diversity. This includes women and Latinos who are under-represented in command and executive staff roles. She is committed to recruiting and retention practices that include women, Latinos, and all people of color.
Fight to retain experienced staff with incentives and seek competitive salaries. Durham County residents deserve public safety professionals who are well trained to high expectations. Raising expectations and standards will not come without higher pay. Entry-level salaries of $34,000/year will not recruit and retain the professional staff Durham County residents expect and deserve.
Commit to training for all staff which includes diversity, de-escalation, and crisis intervention. She will hold staff accountable when incidences of excessive use of force occur or service is not dignified and fair.
Lead the Sheriff’s Office with integrity and commitment to full and transparent accountability in all areas of the Sheriff’s Office. This includes keeping a balanced budget, improving efficiency with audits and cost-savings.
Maria will be committed to working hand-in-hand with other county agencies to bring the resources and services to our residents most in need, She believes traditional law enforcement response is not the correct course for those experiencing a mental health crisis. As Durham County Sheriff, Maria will:
Strongly support the community and offender-based programs of the Criminal Justice Resource Center, including the Misdemeanor Diversion Program, Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, and the Durham Local Reentry Council.
Locking people up should not be the first response to people’s problems…Maria will require that Deputies take steps which ensure low-level offenders are directed into social service programs rather than into the legal system, and that they have access to services to reduce recidivism. This includes those involved in non-violent, non-gun related drug offenses.
Ensure the Crisis Response staff are fully trained in crisis intervention techniques and partnering with other supporting agencies to enable proper referrals for continued care of those experiencing crisis.