Meet Clarence Birkhead

Clarence Birkhead is a law enforcement professional with almost 30 years of experience in both local government and the private sector.  Birkhead received his Master’s Degree in organizational management from Pfeiffer University and completed his Bachelor’s in criminal justice at Shaw University.

Birkhead began his professional career as a Deputy Sheriff of Randolph County in 1984 before relocating to Durham where he joined the Duke Police Department in 1988.  Birkhead spent more than half of his career working to serve the Duke community, first as detective with Duke Police and later as Assistant Chief for Operations.  At age 38, he was appointed to Chief of Police where he oversaw all public safety functions for the University as well as the Medical Center and Hospital. 

His biggest achievements as Chief of Police were combining the university’s security and police forces and expanding the department’s jurisdiction to the neighboring communities.  His efforts to merge the two divisions eliminated duplication, streamlined operations, doubled manpower, and improved response times.  Meanwhile, Birkhead’s success at extending the jurisdiction of the force fostered collaboration between the public private law enforcement entities in Durham and expanded the service level of the Department to include both those of the Duke and greater Durham community.  Birkhead left Duke after 17 years to broaden his professional scope, serving as Chief of Police for the Town of Hillsborough and most recently, as an Associate Vice President for Queens University of Charlotte.

Birkhead’s career in law enforcement developed as he saw many marginalized groups growing up lacked the confidence that local law enforcement would protect and serve their interest.  Birkhead’s desire to continue impacting the system has been the driving force behind his decision to “return home” and run for Durham County Sheriff. Birkhead sees a role as Sheriff as an opportunity to improve services, expand efforts, and build collaborative partnerships with the community.

When Birkhead is not working, he can be found spending time with his wife and three children.  He also takes time to smoke cigars, ride his motorcycle, play golf, and catch up on his sports games whenever he can.

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