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Man accused of impersonating officer claimed to be part of ‘Scared Straight Program’

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AKRON -- Using the name 'Sincere Henderson,' Christopher Hendon posted on Facebook "...I was once a trouble teen and my life has been forever changed by some officers from APD...I know that I and few others can do the same for another child.."

But Summit County authorities said his activities crossed a line when, on four occasions, Hendon dressed as a police officer, carried a gun and took kids in handcuffs to the Juvenile Detention Center and on April 3 to the Summit County Jail.

Summit County Sheriff's Office Inspector Bill Holland said Hendon told deputies that he was running a 'Scared Straight' program.

It wasn't until his fourth visit that the real deputies started questioning his authenticity.

"He had a badge that said security officer on it. However, where it said security he had a mourning band around it so you couldn't see security; all you could see was officer, so it was a regular police shield," said Holland.

On Facebook, Hendon has posted dozens of photographs of himself in what appears to be a full tactical police uniform; in several of them he is posing with guns.

The Summit County Sheriff's Office said he does have a concealed carry permit but in their cases he is not concealing the weapons while intending to get inside the Juvenile Detention Center and the Summit County Jail.

In one of the photographs he is posing, in uniform, with Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan.

Other photographs show children in handcuffs outside of the Summit County Jail, posted where anyone from the public could see them.

He also posted a photograph of a young child in tears, sitting in a jail cell at the Juvenile Detention Center and courthouse on Dan Street.

In the post Hendon said he was not doing it to embarrass the kids.

"It's very bold and I can't say for certain but it almost lends to the fact that he may have had good intentions bringing them -- these children-- to try to straighten out their behavior, for lack of a better word, but again what he did was illegal and he has been arrested and charged as of yesterday and he was booked into the Summit County Jail," said Holland.

Fox 8 News had a random encounter with Hendon on February 8, the day after a house explosion in Akron.

Hendon, whose address on record is five blocks away, commented to Fox 8 about the blast.

During the interview he was wearing clothing embroidered with logos from the Kent State University Police Academy.

Eric Mansfield of Kent State University confirms that Hendon was enrolled in the program from September 26, 2016 until January 4, 2017 but left the program without graduating.

When police searched his residence on Monday they confiscated a security badge and a tactical police vest along with weapons, which Hendon is seen posing in for many of his social media photographs.

"Merely posessing some of these items is not illegal; however, when you make an overt action to portray yourself as a peace officer and try to gain access into government buildings that's where you cross the line and start breaking the law," said Holland.

Hendon was arraigned on Tuesday on multiple charges of impersonating a law officer, conveyance of a deadly weapon into a courthouse, and criminal trespass.

During his arraignment he told the court that he works as a security guard at a store in Canton and makes extra money as a "lift driver, like Uber."

Summit County does not have a 'Scared Straight' program. Holland said they do operate a diversion program that is more education-based.

Investigators with the Summit County Sheriff's Office want to hear from any parent whose child was involved in one of Hendon's 'Scared Straight' programs.

"Once this gets out I'm predicting that there's going to be other agencies that will call and say I have had interaction with this person; we have seen him over at our department interacting with our officers. I really believe that is going to happen and this is going to branch out; I don't think we have seen the full scope of this situation yet," said Holland.​​

The sheriff's office asks that if you know of a child who participated in Hendon’s “Scared Straight Program,” please contact the Summit County Sheriff’s Detective Bureau at 330-643-2131.

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