For Durham County Sheriff, the INDY Endorses Clarence Birkhead | Our Endorsements | Indy Week
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For Durham County Sheriff, the INDY Endorses Clarence Birkhead 

In the INDY's 2014 endorsement of Mike Andrews, we wrote that since his appointment to the office in 2011, Andrews had "run a drama-free department." We said he was respected and measured and that we saw potential for the agency to improve relationships with Durham's Latino community. We weren't alone; Andrews also received the endorsement of the People's Alliance that year.

Times have changed.

This year, we're endorsing Andrews's sole primary opponent, Clarence Birkhead, a former Duke University and Hillsborough police chief who challenged Andrews in 2014. (So is the People's Alliance.)

It's no secret that this publication has been critical of the sheriff's office under Andrews. We have plenty of gripes: the conditions at the jail, where six people have died since 2013; the practice—ripe for a legal challenge—of honoring all requests from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to keep people in jail so ICE can pick them up,; the aggressive pursuit of protesters involved with pulling down a Confederate monument last year; and the lack of dialogue with the agency's ardent critics, for starters.

We want to give Andrews credit for having a really hard job surely made harder by the lambasting he receives from critics. But we don't think Andrews has run an office reflective of Durham's values.

Birkhead, on the other hand, says he will be more transparent and accessible, will aim to keep people out of jail, will support an end to money bail, and will not hold people for ICE without a judicial warrant. We welcome those changes, and we hope he keeps his word.

If not, in four years, we'll be endorsing someone else.

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