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  • Sheriff Birkhead actively engaged in the fight for criminal justice reform. Being the first black Sheriff of Durham County gives him a unique viewpoint. He’s honored to serve on Governor Cooper’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice to use my perspective to affect positive change.

  • True to his word, Sheriff Birkhead has rejected ICE detainers without a judicial warrant or a Notice to Appear; detainers target marginalized communities.

  • Sheriff Birkhead banned by policy “no-knock warrants".

  • Sheriff Birkhead implemented all aspects of  “8 Can’t Wait”

  • Sheriff Birkhead has increased efforts to rid our communities of drugs and remove guns from our neighborhoods. He has developed a regional strike team of highly trained Sheriff’s deputies cooperating across four counties to carry out high-risk operations to remove violent offenders from our streets. “We’re making progress. There is still much to do,” said Sheriff Birkhead.

  • Sheriff Birkhead implemented the Sheriff’s Targeted Enforcement Program (STEP) to address quality of life concerns in our community regarding public safety, gun violence, and criminal activity.

  • Sheriff Birkhead advanced technology in the Durham County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) like body-worn cameras (BWC) and in-car dash cameras ensure accurate portrayals of interactions between law enforcement and the community and increase transparency and accountability. The cameras are being issued to all deputies, school resource officers (SROs), and eventually to detention officers. Further, additional benefits include:

    • Improving evidence collection

    • Gathering the evidence to corroborate or dismiss accounts of an interaction

    • Strengthening trust between law enforcement and the community

    • De-escalating conflicts

    • Fewer complaints were lodged against officers relative to officers without BWCs

    • A higher number of citizen complaints resolved in citizens’ favor

    • Training opportunities

  • In service to the residents of Durham County, under the Sheriff’s leadership, DCSO properly trains deputies and detention officers as public servants and guardians of the peace. Examples include:

    • A model policy on use-of-force

    • A policy on an officer’s duty to intervene

    • De-escalation training

    • Advanced technology like body-worn cameras and in-car dash cameras

    • Crisis intervention training (CIT)

    • Ongoing training as best practices evolve

  • Sheriff Birkhead has focused on appropriate and humane ways to care for detainees including medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance abuse, 24/7 mental health care, peer support and transition services, mental health treatment and programming for all women, and implementation of the male mental health pod.

  • Sheriff Birkhead has made improvements to communications for detainees, increasing and encouraging detainees to retain or add family connections to support re-integration and decrease recidivism by reducing phone rates and implementing a communications program with emails, video visits 

  • Sheriff Birkhead has engaged the community with the help of established leaders and dedicated community groups like Partners Against Crime (PAC), local advocacy groups, and regular meetings with the Black and Hispanic/Latinx communities, religious leaders, and the business community.

  • Sheriff Birkhead signed on to Faith ID program.

  • Sheriff Birkhead created the first-ever Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) has 27 members and offers citizens the opportunity to communicate with the Sheriff about their community concerns during quarterly meetings.


Under Sheriff Birkhead’s leadership, the DCSO has earned the “Triple Crown” of accreditations: Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), American Correctional Association (ACA), and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). Most of the work behind this achievement took place during the pandemic.


Incumbent Durham County Sheriff first elected in 2018

Durham, NC (Wednesday, December 8, 2021) – Durham County Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead officially qualified for the 2022 election after filing qualifying paperwork at the Durham County Board of Elections Office earlier today. “It is my honor to serve the people of Durham County and I look forward to continuing the progress we have made,” Sheriff Birkhead said.


As a candidate three years ago, Birkhead received nearly 70% of the vote in the May 2018 Democratic primary. “I’m so proud of the accomplishments we’ve made in my first term, under some extraordinary circumstances,” said Sheriff Birkhead. “The COVID-19 pandemic, national call for police reform, the tragic death of George Floyd – despite all of the challenges the men and women of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) answered the call to serve.


“Under my watch, DCSO became a “Triple Crown of Accreditation” – only one of three agencies across the state of North Carolina and just the 29th in the entire United States to achieve certification from the American Correctional Association (ACA)National Commission of Correctional Health Care (NCCHA) and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA),” Sheriff Birkhead continued. “I look forward to continuing to lead this office and serving Durham County.”


The Durham County Sheriff’s Office patrols unincorporated sections of Durham County. DCSO manages the Durham County Detention Center, oversees courthouse security and serves warrants, among other  duties. Sheriff Birkhead currently manages 491 employees and a $40.4 million budget.

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