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Hill asks commission to reverse transfer

By Justin Boron

Incoming Sheriff Victor Hill asked the Clayton County commission to reverse its transfer of the crime scene investigation unit Tuesday in the closing minutes of the board's final meeting of the year.

Without responding to his request, the Board of Commissioners adjourned the meeting and all but ensured that the county government will face litigation promised by Hill in January.

Hill said he would give the next commission another chance to rescind the transfer of an important part of the Sheriff's department to county police control.

But he said he would still file suit as soon as possible in January, citing court rulings he says illustrate that the Sheriff is the chief law enforcer in the county and cannot be stripped of this duty.

Incoming Commissioner Wole Ralph also has asked the commission to reconsider.

Ralph will replace Commissioner Gerald Matthews, who voted for the transfer in the Dec. 7 meeting.

Incidentally, Matthews was honored at Tuesday's meeting for his work in Clayton County when the commission voted to rename Lovejoy Regional Park to Gerald A. Matthews Complex.

The reversal of the crime scene transfer appears unlikely since at least one other board member would need to change his or her vote to send the crime scene unit back to the Sheriff's Department.

Commission Chairman Crandle Bray and Commissioner Charley Griswell also voted for the transfer. Commissioner Virginia Gray abstained, and Commissioner Carl Rhodenizer opposed it.

Bray's vote is subject to change when incoming Chairman Eldrin Bell takes over.

But Bell has witheld his opinion on the matter even though Bray has indicated that he was the lead of the next chairman on the issue.

The tenuous measure erupted into a racially divisive issue on Dec. 7 when Griswell introduced two resolutions to the agenda minutes after the commission meeting began.

The resolutions proposed to transfer both the narcotics unit and the crime scene investigation unit to police control.

But the transfer of the narcotics unit failed after Bray strayed from his vote on the crime scene investigations transfer, locking the proposal in a 2-2 tie, with Gray again abstaining.

Several prominent African-American community members stood up to protest the move.

The protests did little to phase Griswell, who said he proposed the resolutions in response to repeated threats by Hill.