Immigrant advocacy group has high hopes for new Durham sheriff

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- Clarence Birkhead is set to take over the Durham County Sheriff's Office and would make history as the first African-American to hold the position.

He beat out Sheriff Mike Andrews in the Democratic Primary and right now, there are no Republican challengers.

ABC11 has been trying to speak with Birkhead about the win and his goals, but he hasn't been able to meet.

The nonprofit El Centro has hope with this changing of the guard.

"We're looking forward to keeping him to his promise," said El Centro Hispano Advocacy Manager Eliazar Posada.

The Durham County Jail has been the focus of several protests. Folks have rallied against inmate conditions and ICE detainers on undocumented residents.

"It's been very frustrating and at times angering," Posada said.

Birkhead said he wants to improve community relations, tackle gun violence, and he wrote on his campaign website," We will not honor ICE detainers. We will not participate in ICE roundups. We will not do checkpoints for immigration purposes."

Posada said, "we are trying to build relationships with law enforcement ensuring that our community members know they are welcomed and that they have a voice in Durham, and honoring these ICE detainers sweeps the rug right from under us."

Andrews has said laws of our county, state, and nation should be applied equally.

"I respect the decision of the voters," Andrews said after being ousted from office. "I recognize how blessed I am to have been supported by so many wonderful people throughout the County."

He said he vows to continue working toward the goals laid out in the budget.

Andrews also said he's not sure what comes next for him.

He has been sheriff for seven years and worked for the office nearly four decades.
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