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Durham City Council welcomes 2 new members

The Durham city council said goodbye to two council members Tuesday night and welcomed two fresh faces, newly-elected members Diane Catotti and Eugene Brown. Members also received the Durham Police Department's third quarter crime report, presented by Chief of Police Steve Chalmers.

Judge Orlando Hudson swore in Brown, Catotti and returning council member Thomas Stith, with the members-elect flanked by their families. Council members Lewis Cheek and Tamra Edwards ended their terms Tuesday night.

"As I said throughout my campaign, I'll be hardworking and informed, open, fair and effective," Catotti said in a short statement after being sworn in.

Hudson also swore in Mayor Bill Bell to his second term in office. To replace Lewis Cheek as his mayor pro tempore, Bell chose council member Cora Cole-McFadden. The council approved the choice by a vote of 6-1, with the single dissenting vote cast by Howard Clement.

"It was a matter of principle," Clement later said of his vote. "It was not personal." Clement said he did not condone the way Cole-McFadden had confronted Scott Lyles, a city employee whom she claimed approached her in a threatening manner during a meeting last month. Lyles was suspended for a week without pay and later dismissed.

Chalmers presented data detailing overall crime from July to September. The number of violent crimes was at a five-year low for the third quarter, and the department's rate at clearing cases outstripped the national average in seven of 10 crime categories.

"I believe the third quarter shows what can happen when we deploy our officers using statistics," Chalmers said. He suggested continuing to use area statistics to target critical parts of the city.

Despite the fact that the data showed further reduction in crime, some residents urged for more patrols in certain communities.

Marie Hill-Faison, a resident of the McDougal Terrace Housing Project, urged council members not to brush her neighborhood's problems "under the rug" based on some general numbers. She talked about how her 16-year-old son has considered carrying a gun to protect himself.

"I would hate for my son to become a statistic," Hill-Faison said.

Victoria Peterson said she doesn't understand how the city is using all of its federal moneys and she is still experiencing shortages. Such shortages are the reason that some officers may have to be withdrawn from patrols through neighborhoods such as McDougal Terrace.

"We have 450 officers, and we're working them to death," Peterson said.

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