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.


Sheriff’s Highlights:

Sheriff Clarence Birkhead is a progressive 21st-century policing leader. His groundbreaking law enforcement approach has led to the following achievements:


  • Navigating the COVID Challenge: After seeking guidance from the wealth of scientists, healthcare professionals and public health experts in & around Durham, Sheriff Birkhead boldly implemented COVID best practices and standards, including the announcement in February 2021 of a mandate that all DCSO employees receive the vaccine. These early actions taken by Sheriff Birkhead months before similar edicts became commonplace in government and business sectors across the United States have provided better protection for the public, detainees, and employees.

  • Fiscally Responsible: Managing a $40-million budget covering all DCSO functions, including Administration, Patrol, Support Services and the 24/7 operation of the Durham County Detention Center.

  • Office Reorganization: streamlining operations and increasing efficiency resulting in greater accountability and general office transparency.

  • Providing Leadership in time of civil unrest: DCSO re-affirmed a commitment to best practices in the wake of the May 2020 incident involving George Floyd by ensuring adherence to national recommendations (including “Project 8 Can’t Wait”) 

  • Sheriff’s Community Advisory Board: In August 2019, Sheriff Birkhead announced a key initiative directly resulting in moving DCSO in a new direction toward building trust between law enforcement and the community. Coined “CAB,” 27 community members regularly meet with the Sheriff to discuss community issues, offer suggestions, and hear about what DCSO is doing. The entity is the first of its kind in North Carolina and is a proactive approach to law enforcement in contrast to police being reactive and behind the curve.

  • Stance on House Bill 370: one of Sheriff Birkhead’s first directives in office was to halt the policy of holding detainees past the time when they legally should be released. DCSO continues to make legally required notifications to federal officials while making detainees available to national law enforcement.

  • Governor’s Highway Safety Program: DCSO was approved for a four-year, $1.1-million grant with Durham County to increase the number of traffic enforcement deputies and vehicles assigned to highway and traffic control. Community support for the grant has been received from both the Durham County District Attorney’s Office and the Durham-Caswell-Person MADD Chapter (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

  • Open-Door Policy: Sheriff Birkhead and his staff regularly meet with individuals, community groups and organizations throughout Durham County. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his command staff have continued to conduct multiple virtual meetings to keep connecting with the community

  • Creation of the Office of Community Engagement: Another critical first year accomplishment was the hiring of a full-time employee reporting directly to Sheriff Birkhead to brief him on outreach, educational opportunities, and support to the community. 

  • You Can Vote Initiative: DCSO partners with the group “You Can Vote” to educate and assist pre-trial detainees and residents serving misdemeanor sentences with the opportunity to register to vote.

Sheriff’s Office Representation in the Community:


Office Accomplishments: DCSO Accreditations

The Durham County Sheriff’s Office achieves the “Triple Crown of Accreditation” – only one of three agencies in North Carolina and just the 29th in the United States to achieve certification from the following agencies:


  1. American Correctional Association (ACA): Durham County Detention Center (DCDC) receives one of the highest scores ever earned for an office seeking accreditation for the first time in its history

  2. National Commission of Correctional Health Care (NCCHA): ensures DCDC provides the best medical care possible for detainees

  3. CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies): DCSO following national best practices for the 8th time in office history and the first under Sheriff Birkhead’s administration.