“I am extremely disappointed that taxpayers protected him at the expense of the community.”
CLAYTON – The Town of Clayton police chief reportedly took officers off patrol to provide personal security at his home, even when he wasn’t there. Police Chief Blair Myhand’s actions are now being questioned by some members of the Clayton Town Council.
In the aftermath of the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota there were protests, riots and unrest across the country. On June 2nd, the NC Association of Chiefs of Police sent an email to their members across the state indicating there were “non-specific threats” towards law enforcement officers. “Information has been received that non-specific threats have been generated towards Police Chiefs and other Law Enforcement Officials… Due to the current climate across the state and the country, we wanted to inform you for situational awareness. We will update information or intelligence received that is deemed credible,” the memo stated.
The following day, on June 3rd, an on-duty police officer was pulled from patrol and ordered to guard Myhand’s personal home in the Clayton city limits. Town Manager Adam Lindsay informed the Town Council and Mayor Jody McLeod in an email that night stating, “Chief Myhand did receive an unvalidated threat towards him and his address and out of an abundance of caution there will be police patrol watching his home through the weekend.”
Normally, at any given time, there are four patrol officers on duty in the Town of Clayton. But between June 3rd and June 7th – a five-day period – one of the four officers was pulled from patrol duties to sit in front of the police chief’s home to provide 24 hour a day personal security. The security took place even when no one was apparently at Myhand’s personal residence.
In a June 5th email to the town manager, Councilman Jason Thompson said, “I do not support the taxpayers paying for the Chief’s protection detail. We have officers on the front lines who have been threatened by gang members and we have not provided protection for their wives and children while they work nor for them at home. If we are not providing it for our lowest ranking officers, we should not be providing (it) when he makes a higher salary. This is a slap in the face of officers (who) have been threatened and have not received the same. I would like to know the cost of this protection and how it is going to be paid for.”
The next day, June 6th, Town Manager Lindsay emailed the town council saying he did not know the cost of the private protection detail. “I don’t know the cost. As I relayed on Wednesday (June 3), a patrol officer was assigned to watch over his property so it is being provided by an active duty officer during their assigned shift.” For the first time, Lindsay told the council Chief Myhand had received “intel from a credible source that a prominent gang had put out a threat towards him and his home” after several Clayton police officers and Chief Myhand assisted Raleigh Police during protests and rioting.
Lindsay then defended the private security detail. “I didn’t hesitate on the idea because I think it is best that I try to limit the leader of our police department from some of the personal stress and worry about what might happen to his home and family during this time when we need him focused the most on the community at large.”
In 2017, three people were arrested for breaking into the Myhand’s home when he lived in Apex and worked with the Apex Police Department. Myhand shot at one of the burglars but missed. The suspects were later captured.
African American Clayton Police Officer Denied Protection
In a June 10th email, obtained through a Public Records Request, sent from Councilman Thompson to Councilman Michael Grannis, Mr. Thompson stated, “In April, one of our police officers received a very specific threat on his life from a violent gang. It was part of their promotion process (rank in the gang). Our detectives investigated and two days later concluded they did not believe it to be credible. Neither our officer, his wife nor his new child received a protection detail during these two days they believed him to be in imminent danger. Our chief received a non-specific threat, against all chiefs, after the Raleigh protest. Our PD immediately provided a protection detail and our officers (on duty on our time) placed cameras up at his residence. We provided 24/7 protection of his home, even when he wasn’t there.”
“I’m appalled at the difference in how these were handled. Our front-line officer was treated differently than our chief who makes over $100,000 a year. Our chief lives in an affluent neighborhood and has the means to afford private security. I am extremely disappointed that taxpayers protected him at the expense of the community – and took a valuable officer off patrol and stationed him outside of the chief’s home. I just can’t agree with how this was handled nor the spending of our money.”
“Further, our chief is white and our officer is of color. This sends a horrible message to our officers, other staff and to the community for how we handle situations where people have been threatened and terribly upsets me. I’ve worked for 3 sheriff’s and 3 police chiefs. They have all been threatened I have NEVER known the taxpayers to fund personal protection for them,” Councilman Thompson said in the email.
Town Councilman Bobby Bunn said he shares Councilman Thompson’s concerns. “Anytime when it pertains to Clayton tax dollars being questioned, I am going to look into it. There was another police officer threatened by gangs and we didn’t do anything for them as far as protection-wise.”
When asked if Chief Myhand was wasting police resources, Bunn responded, “You want to make sure tax dollars are being spent wisely. I hope all town employees are mindful of how they spend taxpayer’s dollars.”
Asked about pulling on-duty officers off the street to sit in front of Myhand’s home, which could delay response times for the remaining officers on patrol, Bunn said, “I am concerned. Absolutely.”
Protection Detail Ends
On June 7th, Chief Myhand ordered the personal protection detail to end. So far, the Town of Clayton and the Clayton Police Department have not been able to provide the cost of the five-day security detail.
Johnston County Report has confirmed a surveillance camera device used by the Clayton Police Department was installed by on-duty police officers at Chief Myhand’s home during the weeklong security detail. Officials did not say if the device, commonly used in areas of high crime and narcotics investigations, was pulled from any official police activity to be placed at Myhand’s home.
We checked with the several local law enforcement agencies including the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Selma Police and Smithfield Police Departments. No one received any protection detail during the period. All were aware of the increased threats against law enforcement. In fact, all the officials told us they had never had a security detail for any reason throughout their career.
Raleigh Police Chief Has Security Detail
ABC 11 reported in May 2020, the Raleigh Police Protective Association took issue with a 24/7 security detail provided to Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown at taxpayer expense. She has been receiving the security at her home since March, when protestors showed up at her personal residence.
“We find this concerning because this unusual security service is an atypical use of city and police resources,” Raleigh Police Protective Association spokesperson Rick Armstrong said in a Facebook post. “Private citizens and business owners requesting around-the-clock security would be required to hire off-duty police at $35 per hour or a private security service. Why is Chief Deck-Brown treated differently than Raleigh citizens or Raleigh police officers?”
Armstrong said that Raleigh police officers threatened in the past were not given long-term protection, ABC 11 reported.
Misuse of Clayton Taxpayer Dollars
Councilman Thompson said he is concerned about the safety of Chief Myhand along with all police officers and citizens in Clayton. “Of course, I am concerned for the welfare of our chief. I am also concerned for the welfare of all of our officers and their families. We have officers on the front lines, as well as citizens who receive threats on a regular basis. I think we do a great job protecting our city, but we cannot use taxpayer money to provide personal security for private citizens or our chief. The chief gets paid more than any other officer in our town and if he wants personal protection, he should utilize his own money to hire guards. It greatly concerns me that on duty patrol officers have been utilized to stand guard at the Chief’s residence. Taking an officer off of patrol increases the danger to our citizens and is a misuse of taxpayer dollars.”
No Response from Police Chief
On July 1st, we emailed Chief Myhand asking him to respond to several questions related to his security detail. We asked why he used an on-duty officer instead of hiring an off-duty officer or private security and if he planned to reimburse the Town of Clayton for the cost. We also ask why he had round-the-clock protection when an officer of color received a credible threat in April and received no protection. Chief Myhand did not respond to our email. Town spokesperson Stacy Beard said July 2nd, “He might be on vacation. I don’t know.” As of news deadline today (Monday), Myhand still had not responded to our email sent five days ago.
Town of Clayton officials did, however, provide us with an unclassified memo from the FBI to support their claims a security detail was needed for Chief Myhand. The memo indicated law enforcement officers could be targeted at their personal residences and to beware of parking cruisers in their driveways and being followed home at the end of a shift. The memo was dated June 12th, five days after the personal security ended at Chief Myhand’s home.