All things Tuggle are wiped away

By Justin Boron

At the start of each shift in the Clayton County Sheriff's Office, a tan and orange sea washes into the roll call room. In the coming months, a new tide will flow.

Sheriff Victor Hill said dark blue uniforms will become the standard in his office, which has been caught in a controversial flux between new and old administrations.

The transition reached its apex early when Hill suddenly dismissed 27 sheriff employees on his first day at work.

Meanwhile, there were other subtle changes occurring.

Hill has erased most of the evidence of his predecessor.

Former Sheriff Stanley Tuggle has disappeared from the Web site, the letterhead, and the signs.

But Hill takes exception to the Web site, saying he didn't authorize the change.

As early as Jan. 3, a large picture of Hill appeared on the site www.claytonsheriff.com.

He pulled his photo off Friday and said a new site is being constructed.

Like the uniform, it also will feature dark blue as its base color.

"We're moving in a new direction . . . (and) changing the image of the department," he said.

Little remains of Tuggle's eight-year tenure except for occasionally, mistaken receptionists, who answer the phone with the greeting "Office of Stanley Tuggle."

New faces also meet visitors at the sheriff's office.

Gone is the vacant spot in the hallway leading to Hill's office. Instead, an armed guard keeps his eye on strangers coming to meet with the new sheriff.

Tuggle's former secretary Sherry Martin also has been moved. Her replacement is Pat Ruth.

A design committee is creating the blue uniform, straying from an almost 30-year old recommendation of the Georgia Sheriff's Association, Inc.

Sheriffs are not bound by law to keep the brown, tan, and orange, said Bud Cody, the executive vice president for the association.

"A lot of sheriffs change uniforms," he said.

The design will be close to the current uniform, with the shirt and pants the same, Hill said.

But he said the office's commanders would receive the same type of dress uniform he wore when he was sworn in.

Other deputies will have the option of purchasing a dress uniform with their own money, Hill said.

As for the cost, Tuggle said uniform change could cost about $400 to $500 per deputy in the close to 350-person staff.

But Hill said the funds won't cause a burden on his budget because the transition would occur when the regular uniform allowance comes up during budget discussions.