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Hillsborough police altered accreditation records

Posted April 15, 2010

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— Records tied to the accreditation of the Hillsborough Police Department were improperly backdated to demonstrate compliance with various standards, Town Manager Eric Peterson said Thursday.

Hillsborough Police Department Officials: Fudging records undermines process

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA, is a nonprofit credentialing organization that allows law enforcement agencies to voluntarily demonstrate that they meet an established set of professional standards. CALEA has about 460 standards that require proof of compliance.

An investigation determined that Hillsborough police didn't maintain timely documentation with at least 16 standards, and paperwork from 2008 and 2009 was then altered to make it appear it was done according to schedule, Peterson said in a statement.

“No indications of any problems regarding criminal record keeping and felony prosecution files have been found,” he said.

Former Police Chief Clarence Birkhead was aware of and produced the backdated documents, Peterson said. Birkhead, who denies any wrongdoing, resigned this month to focus on his campaign for Orange County sheriff.

Peterson said the department's accreditation manager, Zina Long, told officers that the backdating practice was acceptable and is done by other agencies.

Long is on suspension until April 23, when her employment with the department ends, Peterson said. He declined to say the reason for the suspension or whether she resigned or has been fired.

The altered records covered standards for off-duty employment, prisoner transportation, victim intimidation, sexual harassment complaints, search and rescue and other issues.

"The most disappointing and baffling aspect of this entire situation is that the backdating was not necessary to maintain compliance. It was, quite frankly, senseless,” Peterson said.

Mayor Tom Stevens said the backdating "really undermines the entire reason for the accreditation."

The altered records have been removed from the files and replaced with accurate documentation, said Lt. Davis Trimmer, who is acting police chief. Hillsborough officials are working with CALEA to determine whether the police department should continue its re-accreditation efforts.

Hillsborough is one of 28 law enforcement departments in North Carolina accredited by CALEA.

"I hope people understand that this is strictly an administrative issue," Trimmer said.

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  • native oc Apr 20, 2010

    WATCHDOG NC says "Election time is grand indeed. What voters dont know is the big picture. Lindy had planned on retiring. But ran again because he knew Birkhead was going to run. It pays to have former deputies work in HPD. After Lindy wins, he will retire, and give the throne to his number two guy. Welcome to politics."

    Is it a bad thing if his number two guy gets the Throne?

  • native oc Apr 16, 2010

    Former Police Chief Clarence Birkhead was aware of and produced the backdated documents. Birkhead resigned this month to focus on his campaign for Orange County sheriff. We now know why he left Hillsborough Police Dept and it wasn't to focus on running for Sheriff. He hoped this wouldn't come out and he could just move to another department to avoid being fired. So why do we want him at the Sheriff's Dept. as Lindy Pendergrass has served the citizens of Orange County for over 30 years with honestly and hard work, making sure his department does the right thing always.

  • riggsfan10 Apr 16, 2010

    liwoods -

    Yes actually I have lived in Orange Co all of my life. I never once said Birkhead wasn't a snake in the grass. Just made it a known fact that the County is in need of a change!

  • schit Apr 16, 2010

    Former Police Chief Clarence Birkhead was aware of and produced the backdated documents, Peterson said. Birkhead, who denies any wrongdoing, resigned this month to focus on his campaign for Orange County sheriff.

    He DENIED any wrong doing..Yeah right and I own beachfront property in Wyoming. We live in HB and get no service from our so called HBPD. We pay taxes for their services and get nothing. I say do away with all of them and lets put new peeps in there.

  • Milkman Apr 16, 2010

    I have lots of friends in public safety, and Hillsborough PD is the laughing stock of the area. Orange County Sheriffs, Chapel Hill PD, State Troopers all say HPD is a dangerous joke and hopefully soon will be in the position of Spring Lake PD of having to start over.

  • WatchDogNC Apr 16, 2010

    Election time is grand indeed. What voters dont know is the big picture. Lindy had planned on retiring. But ran again because he knew Birkhead was going to run. It pays to have former deputies work in HPD. After Lindy wins, he will retire, and give the throne to his number two guy. Welcome to politics.

  • waitingforthegermans Apr 16, 2010

    Fortunately, there's a very qualified replacement running, Buddy Parker, for whom I will happily cast my ballot.

    you must be joking!!!! Birkhead has a lot more experience.......

  • lizard Apr 15, 2010

    Documenting compliance to the standards set forth by CALEA can occur anytime between accreditation certifications. Works best if one does a little every month and keep the records updated but there's no problem documenting at any time, including actions that are long past. So long as it is true.

  • inventor61 Apr 15, 2010

    I've lived here in Orange Co. for 20 years and I'm terribly disappointed in the current Sheriff. Fortunately, there's a very qualified replacement running, Buddy Parker, for whom I will happily cast my ballot.

  • turtledove Apr 15, 2010

    LOL I didn't think those LEO's up there were smart enough to know how to do something like that. "Pass the moonshine Bubba we're gonna go alter some records tonight!"

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