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Kimbrough requests review of sheriff's inventory

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton County Sheriff-elect Kem Kimbrough is asking county leaders to help the sheriff's department conduct an inventory audit of all of its resources, ranging from badges to identification cards, to department vehicles.

He said he needs the help because soon-to-be former-Sheriff Victor Hill will not work with him.

Since he won the Nov. 4 general election, Kimbrough said he has received no help from Hill to develop a successful transfer of power in the sheriff's department. The lack of cooperation means Kimbrough has had a hard time getting to know his future employees, and he's, reportedly, had no access to the jail he will take over on Thursday.

It also means, on the eve of taking office, that Kimbrough does not know what belongs to the department, because Hill has allegedly not given that information to his successor. So, the sheriff-elect is turning to the county for help.

"I am asking for an inventory of every physical asset of the sheriff's department," Kimbrough said. "That means cars, computers, guns, badges, ID cards, everything ... Since he [Hill] will not cooperate with us during the transition, I'm asking for help from the county. It's for the people, to make sure they know everything has been accounted for."

Calls to Hill's cell phone went unanswered, and messages could not be left because the voice-mail inbox was full. Kimbrough defeated Hill in the Aug. 5, Democratic Party primary, run-off election.

Eldrin Bell, chairman of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, said Kimbrough has been asking for assistance for some time. "He wanted to make sure he was taking over a sound office," said Bell.

The chairman plans to present Kimbrough's request to the full commission soon.

Oliver Hunter, the deputy general counsel for the Georgia Sheriff's Association, said the law does not require Hill to cooperate with an audit of the department's inventory, but the statewide group does encourage outgoing and incoming sheriffs to work together in this area.

At the very least, Kimbrough should have an inventory done on his first day in office to have a record of what he inherited from Hill, added Hunter.

"It's common sense to have both the outgoing and incoming sheriffs participate in this, but you can't mandate common sense," Hunter said. "A sheriff who is concerned that everything is correctly recorded when he leaves office would want it done. Likewise, an incoming sheriff who wants to make sure he's not taking over less than what is allegedly there, would want this done as well."

Kimbrough said he also considered a forensic audit of the department's finances, but ultimately decided it may not be necessary at this time.

He did suggest that he has evidence that "other bank accounts" may have been set up. However, the sheriff-elect declined to further discuss that issue, in case there is an investigation into those allegations.

"A forensic audit would not catch those accounts," Kimbrough said.

County Attorney Michael Smith said any "improprieties" discovered by an inventory, or forensic audit would be turned over to either the Clayton County District Attorney's office, or the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

Despite Hill's alleged lack of cooperation in taking stock of the department's inventory, Kimbrough said he anticipates the transition of power will take place smoothly. This is also in spite of Hill allegedly refusing to cooperate in any other portion of the transfer of authority.

According to Kimbrough, Hill has ordered employees to not communicate with the sheriff-elect, who has allegedly also been barred from entering the county jail until the end of the year. However, Kimbrough said there are several sheriff's department employees who have chosen to disobey the outgoing sheriff.

"There are a number of people defying his orders, and working with us, because their loyalties are to the department, not to him," said Kimbrough.