Sheriff's Office Policy Review
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office has received a number of emails regarding concerns about law enforcement and community relations. I appreciate hearing from them. When I was sworn in as Sheriff of Durham County in December of 2018 I began an immediate review of the agency’s policies to ensure that they provide all residents and our officers the protections they need to live and work safely in our community.
I am aware of several organizations, such as Campaign Zero, who have issued a list of demands to address police misconduct. The Sheriff’s Office has reviewed our policies to determine where we stand in relation to their suggestions. I find that we have, in part, put into practice many of their points including:
- requiring deputies to de-escalate situations when possible,
- exhausting all other means before use of deadly force,
- requiring a verbal direction and the opportunity to comply,
- requiring a use of force continuum and
- comprehensive reporting for each use of force to include using the threat of physical force or deadly force.
This agency also has policy regarding the avoidance of tactics like choke-holds and firing at moving vehicles. We also require reporting excessive force of another deputy. We regularly review all policies for up to date best practices and as new methods of law enforcement tactics becomes available. In addition, the Durham County Sheriff's Office is currently awaiting funding to provide body cameras to deputies and replace and increase in car cameras throughout the agency.
When elected, I promised the community to be transparent, engaged and accountable to and with them. My first step in accomplishing that was to establish the Sheriff’s Community Advisory Board in 2019. Recently, I have had many conversations with the board, as well as individuals and groups from throughout the community about how I, and this agency can help all residents feel safe in our community. I will continue these conversations. Through this continuing effort we can bring everyone together as one community and one Durham.