Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) arrested Christopher Hill, of Durham, this morning at New Hope Elementary School and charged him with impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Hill, 40, arrived at the school with his girlfriend and her children as he has done since school began last week. After parking the car, the adults walked the children into the school. Both parties signed in at the kiosk in the front office, as is standard procedure when a parent or community member plans to remain on campus once school begins. The kiosk printed a visitor pass for each of them.
Hill wore tan tactical pants, a black polo shirt, and a black vest, all similar to the attire of an OCSO deputy sheriff, although from the front, the vest bore a symbol not associated in any way with law enforcement. Hill left the office and walked down a hall of classrooms. The assistant principal, Craig Dodson, noticed Hill from a distance and radioed the principal and the on duty school resource officer (SRO); both were outside monitoring vehicle traffic and welcoming students. As the SRO entered the building to locate Hill, two teachers also told him about Hill’s attire. They said Hill told them he was providing volunteer security.
While looking for Hill, the SRO radioed his supervisor; she immediately sent a patrol deputy to the school. The principal approached Hill and told him to come with her to the office. He complied. The patrol deputy and the SRO arrived at the office almost immediately thereafter. They had a clear view of the Sheriff patch on the back of Hill’s vest. Hill removed the vest. Both deputies and the principal then escorted Hill out of the school. Once out of view of students and staff, deputies arrested Hill and placed him in handcuffs.
Sheriff Charles Blackwood praised the cooperative efforts leading to the arrest. “School administration and the SRO responded quickly, acted decisively, arranged for additional resources, and made the arrest without any undue fanfare that might be alarming to elementary students. I happen to know how hard Principal Ambra Wilson and SRO Sparrow have worked day in and day out for the last several years to build trust within the New Hope School community. Today, someone threatened to undermine that trust by impersonating a law enforcement officer. Wilson and Sparrow shut that situation down immediately.”
Principal Ambra Wilson concurred. "Our school resource officer and all of the deputies from the Sheriff's office help make New Hope Elementary safe so that our students and teachers can thrive in an amazing environment. I can't thank them enough," she said.
Hill did not have any weapons or other gear such as handcuffs or a radio. No student was threatened or injured. School started on schedule and was never on lockdown. Hill is in the Orange County Detention Center under a $500,000.00 bond. His first court date is scheduled for Thursday, September 5 at 2:00 pm.