Durham County

Sheriff Mike Andrews has an early opponent. You may recognize the name.

Clarence Birkhead
Clarence Birkhead

Clarence Birkhead, a former police chief at Duke University and in Hillsborough, announced Friday that he will challenge incumbent Mike Andrews for Durham County sheriff in the 2018 election.

“My commitment as sheriff would be to provide professional and innovative law enforcement services to all of our neighbors,” Birkhead said in a press release. “I want to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the community, by ensuring transparency and accountability. I also will work to foster cooperation and collaboration with public and private partners.”

The official filing period for the 2018 primaries and general election begins at noon Monday.

Birkhead was Duke’s police chief from 1998 until 2005, when he joined the Hillsborough Police Department.

In 2010, Birkhead resigned as Hillsborough’s chief to run for Orange County sheriff, but lost. He ran for Durham County sheriff in 2014 on a platform that advocated increased diversity and community involvement with law enforcement, but lost that election as well.

Birkhead has worked as a safety and security consultant since 2012. Before then, he served as associate vice president of safety and security at Queens University in Charlotte from 2010 until 2012.

Birkhead’s resignation from the Hillsborough Police Department came months before an investigation found an employee was conducting for-profit business during work hours using a town email, instead of working on the department’s accreditation process.

Town Manager Eric Peterson found that records required for the department’s accreditation by the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies were missing. CALEA, a national credentialing authority that grants accreditation to municipal police departments, had questioned some records that appeared backdated to show compliance during Birkhead’s tenure, according to a Hillsborough Town Hall press release. Birkhead said he had followed the former compliance officer’s advice.

Birkhead could not be reached for comment Friday.

Andrews, who is seeking his second full term, was appointed sheriff in 2011 when Worth Hill retired from the office early.

The Durham County Board of Commissioners decided not to give Andrews a raise on his $150,000 annual salary last year. The decision came after:

▪ several deaths in the jail, including a 17-year old girl who killed herself in her cell.

▪ a deputy working as a school resource officer was charged with sexual misconduct, and

▪ a plan for jail video visitation raised concern about the future of in-person visits, which Andrews has said will continue

More recently, two sheriff’s deputies were charged with driving while impaired in the past two weeks. One of the deputies was “separated” from the department following arrest, and the other was placed on administrative leave, according to a spokeswoman.

An effort to reach Andrews on Friday was also unsuccessful.

Filing period

The candidate filing period for 2018 primaries and elections opens at noon Monday at the Board of Elections Office, at 201 N. Roxboro Street on the first floor of the Durham County Judicial Annex Building..

The 2018 ballot will feature a variety of federal, state and local races. Filing fees vary by race and must be paid by a check or money order made payable to the Durham County Board of Elections. Go to Durham County’s Board of Elections website for a complete list of offices and filing fees.

The filing period runs until noon Wednesday, Feb. 28.