Did you know that Durham has a separate police department for the Durham ABC stores? This police force, two full-time officers, several part-time officers, and a chief, report directly to the Durham ABC Board.
Serious allegations of corruption have been leveled at the Durham ABC Police and Chief Natausha Pettiford.
In a Clarion Content investigation numerous sources inside and outside the department classified the Chief’s behavior and the environment it cultivated as “unprofessional and unethical”.
The Clarion Content initiated our investigation when whistleblower and former Durham ABC Police Officer, Edwin C. Swain, approached us with a broad swath of complaints.
Swain was a part-time officer with the Durham ABC PD who resigned on September 13th, 2017. Swain was then and is still a Staff Sergeant with the Pittsboro Police Department.
Officer Swain leveled a series of accusations against Chief Pettiford and the Durham ABC.
The whistleblower, Officer Swain, alleges that the Chief specifically told her officers to treat certain arrests of local university students differently.
Officer Swain alleges that Chief Pettiford once ordered Durham ABC Police officers to arrest a student for looking at her funny and talking back to her. The North Carolina Central University student in question confirmed the story to the Clarion Content. She was later released.
Officer Swain alleges and our sources corroborate that Durham ABC officers were instructed by Chief Pettiford that Duke University students arrested at parties for underage drinking or other related offenses were to be ticketed on the spot. The same was true for male students from North Carolina Central University. But Chief Pettiford, according to Officer Swain and several other sources, ordered the department’s officers to transport females from North Carolina Central University back to the NCCU police department where they were released rather than ticketed or arrested.
The whistleblower Officer Swain alleges that he complained to Chief Pettiford about this inconsistent and, in his view, illegal policy. Swain alleges that the Chief told him that he, “needed to know his place.”
Officer Swain reports he immediately resigned, putting his gun and badge on Chief Pettiford’s desk that very day.
Various other police officers described Officer Edwin C. Swain as a consummate police professional [who had planned on keeping his part-job with Durham ABC Police for some time].
Officer Swain has continued to work for the Pittsboro Police Department during this time. Captain Troy Roberson of the Pittsboro Police Department confirmed Sergeant Swain’s employment with the Pittsboro PD and said the department does not comment on investigations that do not involve them.
After he resigned from the Durham ABC PD, Officer Swain alleges he reported the Chief’s inconsistent and unethical behavior to Chief Pettiford’s boss, Durham ABC General Manager Rufus Sales.
Swain alleges Sales vowed to investigate. According to Officer Swain, Chief Pettiford had repeatedly insinuated in front of the police department’s officers that she had a piece of information on Sales that would stop him from disciplining her.
When contacted for comment on these allegations General Manager Rufus Sales said in an email, “I appreciate you sharing these allegations with me, I will make Durham County ABC Board aware of your email and allow them to respond.”
[No one from the Durham ABC Board has responded to the Clarion Content’s request for comment.]
Officer Swain and multiple sources allege that Chief Pettiford previously resigned from the Durham Police Department. These police sources, who did not want to be named, allege that Pettiford was allowed to resign rather than be fired after a scandal revolving around her over-claiming her hours. The Durham Police Department only officially confirms dates of employment.
The whistleblower, Officer Swain, told the Clarion Content that he felt General Manager Rufus Sales investigation of Chief Pettiford would lead nowhere. With that in mind Officer Swain alleges that on September 29th of 2017 he took his complaints to Durham ABC Board Chairman Norwood Andy Miller.
Officer Swain alleges that Miller asked Swain to trust Durham ABC General Manager Sales, who is Chief Pettiford’s boss, and respect the process. Officer Swain alleges nothing came of the investigation.
Durham ABC Board Chairman Miller did not respond to requests for comment. Miller has been a police officer at North Carolina Central University, but his name is no longer listed on North Carolina Central University Police Department website. NCCU spokesperson Barbara Lyons refused to comment on his status.
Chief Pettiford when reached for comment would only say that she had been investigated and cleared by her superiors.