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Durham’s First Black Sheriff Fights For Retraining And Rebuilding

a photo of Sheriff Birkhead of Durham County

In 1984 when Clarence F. Birkhead became a deputy sheriff in Randolph County, he had no idea he would eventually take the helm as Durham’s first African American sheriff. Birkhead finds it counter-intuitive that a town with such rich black history and culture had not elected a black sheriff prior to 2018, but he says he is humbled to be the first.

Like many of the incoming sheriffs in his class, Birkhead won on a progressive platform of criminal justice reform; protecting the growing immigrant community; rebuilding the relationship between law enforcement and the community; and reducing gun violence. Birkhead believes the answer to many of the problems facing law enforcement is retraining: He plans to retrain school resource officers to limit the likelihood of contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline. He also continues to take a stand against the 287(g) program calling it unconstitutional. And Birkhead wants legislators and district attorneys to reconsider how they handle low-level offenses. Sheriff Birkhead joins host Frank Stasio to share his plans for his tenure in office. 


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Dana is an award-winning producer who began as a personality at Rock 92. Once she started creating content for morning shows, she developed a love for producing. Dana has written and produced for local and syndicated commercial radio for over a decade. WUNC is her debut into public radio and she’s excited to tell deeper, richer stories.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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