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Durham Strategic Plan Dashboard

Shared Economic

Create a Safer Community Together

Connected, Engaged, and Inclusive Communities

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Status Indicator: In Progress | On Hold | Complete/Ongoing

Initiative: 2.11 Reduce public safety interactions with and improve outcomes for familiar neighbors

Creating a Safer Community Together


From the data and experience, we know that a small number of people can contribute to a larger, disproportionate number of encounters with public safety agencies.  A couple of examples highlight this point.  

  • This past fall, downtown businesses identified a small group of neighbors who they repeatedly had interactions with that made their employees or customers feel less safe.  These neighbors, less than 10 total, had been detained in jail dozens of times each over the last year and also had many complex needs – from housing instability to mental health.  

  • One neighbor called 9-1-1 over 400 times in a one-month period and had complex needs around substance use that were driving his calls for service. This same neighbor contributed to 155 interactions with DCSD staff. 

This initiative will (1) apply data-driven approaches to identify familiar neighbors (FN) with the highest number of interactions with each public safety agency (to include DECC, DPD, DFD, and DCSD); and (2) develop person-centered strategies and collaborations to better address the needs of these neighbors, resulting in a measurable reduction in the number of times these neighbors engage with the Durham Public Safety Portfolio. 

Key Measures & Data Analysis

In the past calendar year (Dec 6 2022 to Dec 6 2023), HEART crisis responders have responded to:
  • 74 neighbors 5 or more times
  • 19 neighbors 10 or more times
  • 8 neighbors 20 or more times
  • 4 neighbors 40 or more times

# of Familiar Neighbor Interactions

Why is it important?

By taking a data-driven, highly collaborative, person-centered approach (one that includes all public safety agencies AND extends beyond it to other health and social service agencies), the goal is to better address unmet, complex needs that are leading to an outsized usage of public safety resources. 

Additionally, sending first responders to the same home 150 times over a 9-month period is the definition of inefficiency.  Having call takers answer a 9-1-1 call for the same person over 400 times in single month is inefficient.  Detaining persons over 20 times in a six-month period is inefficient.  Figuring out how to better attend to the needs behind these calls can help save time (freeing up public safety responders experiencing significant staffing shortages for other calls), reduce risk and harm (that comes from repeated interactions with public safety they may escalate over time), and may even save money (though it depends on how much public safety costs are fixed versus variable).   

What have we been doing?

  • Develop year 1 plan
  • Build multi-agency team
  • Identified case management partner (JSD)
  • Conduct research of FN programs
  • Begin data work to ID FN

What's next?

  • Finalize insights from research of other FN programs
  • Select 15 – 20 familiar neighbors
  • Solve barriers to sharing data
  • Understand neighbors' journeys and needs
  • Develop person-specific strategies
  • Identify key measures
  • Quantify costs to systems
  • Secure external eval partner
  • Search/apply for external grants
  • Begin implementation of person-specific strategies
  • Meet monthly to track progress

Budget and Management Services Department
Office of Performance and Innovation
Strategy and Performance Division