By Lora Lavigne, WRAL reporter

September 29, 2020

Tuesday marked a step forward for community advocates in Durham, where leaders signed off on a new task force meant to address policing and community needs.

The creation of this task force is the first sign to many in Durham that taking a stand can make a difference. Advocates for this group have rallied and protested at city hall for several months, now they’re one step closer to seeing police alternatives

The name Durham Beyond Police stands true to the group’s effort.

“So, if you’re having a mental breakdown.. instead of calling the police you can call a professional,” said Kyla Hartsfield, the campaign organizer.

Hartsfield is one of many who contributed to an 80-page proposal and has pushed to reallocate police funds toward more community-driven resources.

“Transportation, housing, healthcare.. also recommendations on how we can alter our budget to more things folks in Durham feel keep us safe,” she added.

This new vision of community safety was introduced last year. Now the city has approved $1 million toward the task force and partnered with the county and school board.

“Folks should not confuse what I think is a need for a multifaceted, right now, approach to this government to address gun violence with the important work of the task force,” said council member Mark Anthony Middleton.

He supports the project, but believes another effort should be made to address gun violence in Durham as well.

Local supporting organizations like ‘WE ARE,’ believe reapplying funds to areas in need of adequate housing and financial resources is the right move.

“What happens when we pour resources into the people? Often times, that’s a way to decrease violence and provide families with the support that they need just to exist,” said Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock.

“I do feel like this is one step closer to making a difference in our community,” added Hartsfield.

The task force committee will include members from the city, county and school board along with community members.

Applications for the task force are now available.

Watch the Interview here.