Hillsborough, NC police chief finalists named

The Brass Key | September 26, 2010 | Comments (0)

Acting Hillsborough Police Chief Davis Trimmer and Lt. Duane Hampton of the Durham Police Department have been named finalists to become the new chief of the Hillsborough Police Department.

The two men appeared before a community group of about 40 people Thursday night to explain how they would fight crime in Hillsborough and restore the confidence in the Police Department.

The guests, which included business representatives, community leaders and some police officers, were asked to grade the two men on their leadership and management skills, interpersonal skills, their crime reduction and community interactions ideas, and judgment and decision-making skills.

The former chief, Clarence Birkhead, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Orange County Sheriff against incumbent Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass, resigned as chief during the campaign. Birkhead said he wanted to focus his attention on running for sheriff, but later it was revealed that the department had failed to keep proper documentation and had backdated some records for its voluntary accreditation process with CALEA.

The department has since lost its accreditation.

More than 200 people applied for the position of chief, and the candidates were narrowed down to Trimmer and Hampton, said Town Manager Eric Peterson. The men were scheduled to go through a full day of exercises Friday to try to determine how they would handle various incidents. Peterson will use feedback from the meeting Thursday as well as a number of other evaluations to make his final selection for the chief’s position.

Hampton, who lives in Mebane with his wife and children, told the group that he likes small-town living, and he has worked hard in his career hoping for the opportunity to be the chief in a small town.

“I’m very interested in the challenge of managing a small department in a small town,” he said.

As a lieutenant with the Durham Police Department, Hampton serves as the assistant division commander of criminal investigations and is responsible for the operation of homicide, youth, fraud and domestic violence investigations units comprising about 40 investigators. He has a master’s degree in public administration from UNC Chapel Hill.

Trimmer, who was born in Orange County and lived in Orange County most of life, told the audience that if he is selected to be chief he would stick with the job and wouldn’t be using it as stepping stone for his career.

“My home is in Orange County. My family is in Orange County,” Trimmer said. “I intend to retire here.”

Peterson told each man that citizen surveys and discussions show that business people and residents want one-on-one contact with police administrators and officers. He asked each man how he would accomplish that.

Hampton responded that he is not an office man and when he doesn’t have to be in his office, he will be out in the community, walking throughout the downtown, stopping in at businesses to introduce himself and talk to shopkeepers. He also would attend community meetings and presentations, he said.

Trimmer said he planned to get out of the office to talk to business people and residents. He said he would require officers to get out of their cars and make contact with people in the neighborhoods where they patrol, and would require them to keep a record of those contacts to make sure they were keeping up with them.

To fight the drug problem in Hillsborough, Hampton said he would start by identifying the areas where there are drug sales and applying aggressive enforcement to those areas.

He also said he would identify those associated with drug sales, have a serious talk with them and offer them services to help them turn their lives in a different direction. If they chose not to accept the services, they would be told that police would aggressively target them if they continued to commit crimes.

Trimmer told the group that in the past four years, the department has made good progress in reducing drug sales and the associated criminal activity that goes with it.

People wanting to buy drugs in Hillsborough knew where to go to find them, but those open-air drug sale areas have been all but eliminated, Trimmer said.

“What we’ve been able to do is drive it off the street and not sell them out in the open,” Trimmer said.

As far as the Hillsborough Police Department getting reaccredited with CALEA, which is an organization that oversees the voluntary process of meeting hundreds of standards, Hampton said he would first seek CALEA recognition, which is appropriate for small towns, and later attempt to become reaccredited.

Keeping up with CALEA standards requires a lot of time-consuming, redundant paperwork and record-keeping, and often CALEA is two to three years behind the times when it comes to new crime-fighting procedures, Trimmer said. Now that the Hillsborough Police Department has a thorough policy manual, he would instead prepare a yearly report on how the department met or failed to meet its own policies for the town manager to review.

Source: McClatchy News Service

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