To the editor:
In response to Mr. Bill Mitchell's letter to the editor entitled "Sheriff should stick to his assigned duties" I think that we must first educate Mr. Mitchell on what the duties of the Sheriff are. This is not intended to insult Mr. Mitchell because from reading his letter to the editor it appears that he is just simply misinformed. However, the record needs to be set straight.
Once you take the oath to be the Sheriff, you are charged to perform three tasks according to the constitution: Chief law-enforcer, Chief Officer of the court, and Chief jailer. Nowhere in the constitution does it say two out of three, it says all three! Whether or not the county police chief, the Chairman, or Mr. Mitchell likes it or not, according to the constitution, I am the chief law-enforcer of the county. That is not my opinion, it's the law. In another court ruling the courts ruled that even if a county commission decides to waste taxpayer's money to fund an additional police force, they cannot divest the Sheriff of his law-enforcement authority. This is not my opinion, it's the law. So stepping up to fight crime in our county is not "shirking" from my constitutional duties, it is fulfilling my constitutional duties. This letter refers to my involvement as "self impose illusions of grandeur" but I feel that this is far better service to the community then we receive from our "ghost" police chief who you never see or hear from as he hides well behind his public information officer.
As far as Mr. Mitchell alleging that having the Cobra unit and the Stalking unit (known as Panther) creates a backlog of warrants is also misinformation. The Cobra unit often assists in serving warrants and one of the main functions of the stalking unit is to serve domestic violence restraining orders. The fact is we are getting more court orders served, and more efficiently than the previous administration. In addition, once a month I instruct all of my administrators to get from behind the desk and assist in serving warrants. I Sheriff Victor Hill lead the way from the front by serving warrants with them.
The Cobra unit is design to be a street level crime suppression unit that deals with street level drugs, wanted felons, illegal guns and gang activity. Since the inception of the Cobra unit 90 days ago, they have made approximately 150 arrest removing drug dealers and users from the street that the county police would not have time to get to since they are inundated with 911 calls. My stalking unit (Panther) is design to protect victims of domestic violence and "stalk the stalkers." If wanting to use my resources as the constitution charges me to do, "to combat illegal drugs and domestic violence", then I plead guilty. Whether the chairman, the police chief, or the author of this recent misinformed letter to the editor agrees or not, the Cobra unit and the Stalking unit are here to stay, by the power vested in me by the constitution.
Other misinformation in this letter to the editor states that there "Sheriff's Deputies currently guarding the Hill House." Make no mistake, my house is and will always be well guarded, but it is not guarded by Sheriff's deputies. When they did guard my house, it was a temporary assignment based on temporary circumstances.
The letter to the editor also states that police officers are tripping up on Sheriff Deputies on 911 calls. I wish this was true. We would then have a safer Clayton county. I don't have that many deputies to trip up the police department and they don't have enough officers to answer the massive number of 911 calls. This gross lack of manpower is an issue that I plan to take up with our commissioners.
It amazes me that Chief Partain and the author of this misinformed letter to the editor is adamant that only the county police should conduct law-enforcement duties while the Sheriff should concentrate only on the courts and jail, despite the fact that the Constitution says that the Sheriff is the chief law-enforcer. After I won the Sheriff's race, Chief Partain and the board of commissioners conspired to move the crime scene unit and the narcotics unit to the county police's control despite the fact that
during his first year of leadership, Clayton County saw a 32% increase in rape, a 35% increase in robbery and a 66% increase in murder. Chief Partain told the AJC that this was merely due to an increase in population.
Now that he has the crime scene unit and the narcotics unit under his leadership, crime has only gotten worse in wake of all of the recent killings. It would seem that time spent debating who should fight crime could be better spent on joining forces to create a safer quality of life in Clayton County.
Lastly, concerning the consolidation issue that the misinformed letter to the editor mentioned, I like the analogy of comparing it to the Civil war.
President Lincoln knew we would have a stronger, more efficient country if we were united instead of having two separate nations, and he fought to see it happen. I know we can have a stronger and more efficient law enforcement agency if we consolidate our forces and like President Lincoln, I will fight for consolidation until it is achieved. If you cross the county line into Fayette County, which is now home to many former Clayton County residents due to our increase in crime, you will find that there is
no county police. They save millions of dollars in and have a much lower crime rate under the protection of the Sheriff. Henry County, where Chief Partain resides, recently conducted a study confirming that they could save millions of dollars by consolidating under the Sheriff's office.
I am a reformist, and I plan to reform law enforcement in Clayton County until we achieve the results of a safer county. Let us remember that as the reformists of the past withstood criticism from the misinformed, so will I. It simply goes with the territory. In closing I pose this question to Mr. Mitchell, can you be too safe?
SHERIFF VICTOR HILL