Security Team Looks to Improve Safety with Community Approach

From opening car doors at morning drop-off to patrolling DA’s campuses all hours of the day and night, Durham Academy’s security team is working to improve safety with a community approach — by getting to know and earning the trust of faculty, staff, parents and students of all ages. 

Door Locks

The security team, which comprises new faces this year following the retirement of several members of DA’s inaugural security team, has also implemented measures aimed at increasing safety this year, including a policy of locking the front doors to the Preschool/Lower School building the majority of the school day.

Parents visiting the Preschool/Lower School building at hours other than drop-off and pick-up times must stop by the buzz-in station to the right of the front doors, where they will press the silver button and then display their DA parent badge for the camera in order to be buzzed in. If parents forget their badge, they will be asked to stop by the Lower School main office or Enrollment Management office to sign in and receive a visitor badge.

Jim Cleary, who began his role as DA’s director of security this school year after having served as assistant director since 2015, said “it just makes sense from a security standpoint to have those doors locked,” particularly given that Preschool and Lower School students only need to leave the building during the school day for recess or to go to the gym or Brumley Performing Arts Building.


“We do have control over this,” Cleary said, “so let’s get more accountability for everyone who walks through our doors.”

The security team is also limiting access to Upper School buildings, with doors that face into the heart of campus serving as main entrances, and most doors closest to parking areas remaining locked. For the STEM & Humanities Center, that means only the main doors facing into the quad will remain unlocked. In addition, cameras have been installed on the Ridge Road campus to help increase safety and deter thefts and break-ins.

Community Focus

DA’s security team comprises 11 officers, 10 of whom are veterans of the Durham Police Department and one of whom is retired from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. Cleary sees their decades of experience in the local community as invaluable: “They all understood the value of a strong and positive relationship with the community. You limit yourself if you don’t have that community approach, and that’s what we’ve tried to create here at DA.”

Cleary and his team are working toward getting students, faculty and staff more involved in security. At the Preschool and Lower School, officers are building comfort and trust with students by opening car doors at morning drop-off, and they gave a security presentation to Middle Schoolers recently, with a presentation to Upper Schoolers in the works.

“We’re not just 11 [security officers] strong; we’re a whole community strong,” Cleary said. “If you see something, say something. But if you don’t have some type of relationship outside the security-student relationship, they’re much less likely to trust you and to say something to you. That’s why we’re trying to make steps to improve it all the way across the board.”

Security Team Members

Jim Cleary

Director of Security Jim Cleary retired from the Durham Police Department (DPD) as a sergeant. The majority of his supervisory experience was with the Selective Enforcement Team (SWAT) and internal investigations.  


Glen Price

Assistant Director of Security Glen Price retired from DPD as a sergeant. The majority of his supervisory experience was in uniform patrol and criminal investigations. Price was also a firearms instructor and DPD’s lead instructor for rapid deployment, which includes active shooter response. 


Bryan Britt

Bryan Britt retired from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, where his primary responsibility was traffic accident reconstruction and traffic enforcement. After his retirement, he worked as a deputy with the Durham County Sheriff's Office, where he did courtroom security and prisoner transport.


Carey Britt

Carey Britt retired from DPD as an investigator. He spent a large portion of his career handling white-collar fraud cases. In his last few years in investigations, Britt served as DPD’s liaison with Durham pawn shops, a role in which he was able to solve several burglary cases.


Gale Campbell

Gale Campbell, DA’s first female security officer, retired from DPD as a corporal. The majority of her supervisory experience was in internal and criminal investigations. Prior to her work at DA, she did contract work in internal investigations for the N.C. Central University police department.


Melvin Carter

Melvin Carter retired from DPD as a sergeant. The majority of his supervisory experience was with the downtown bicycle unit and criminal investigations. Carter continues to serve as a DPD reserve officer.


Danny Gooch

Danny Gooch retired as a K9 officer with DPD, with the majority of his career spent in that position.


Moses Irving

Moses Irving retired from DPD as a K9 officer, with the majority of his career spent in that position. 

Irving and Gooch often trained their dogs together as DPD officers. “They, in my opinion, were the hardest working and most effective K9 officers in the history of the Durham Police Department,” Cleary said.

Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson retired as a sergeant and spent his entire career with DPD in uniform patrol. Most of his supervisory career was spent in the district that emcompasses Durham Academy’s campuses. “Bill still has officers come by for advice when he’s working nights,” Cleary notes.


Rick Pendergrass

Rick Pendergrass may be a familiar face to many from his days directing traffic at DA during drop-off. He retired from DPD as a deputy chief (No. 2 in command). Prior to his role as deputy chief, Pendergrass was a member of the Selective Enforcement Team (SWAT) and worked in internal investigations. As a commander, he was in charge of a city district and then headed up the narcotics division.

Charles Sole

Charles Sole had approximately 25 years of experience as a DPD officer and was well-known for his investigative skills. He worked in major crimes in narcotics and then criminal investigations, including homicide. One of Sole’s homicide cases was featured on the television show 20/20.