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Clayton warrant roundup snares 91

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough said Friday a partnership between local and federal law enforcement authorities resulted in 140 warrants being served this week, and the apprehension of 91 fugitives.

The sheriff's office teamed up with the Clayton County Police and Fire departments, the Forest Park Police Department, the Clayton County 911 center, and the U.S. Marshals Service from Wednesday to Friday to arrest 91 people, some of whom were wanted on multiple warrants. Forty-five law enforcement officials were involved in the operation, Kimbrough said.

Since he took office on Jan. 1, Kimbrough has instructed deputies to focus on tackling a backlog of unserved warrants left behind by his predecessor, Victor Hill. The new sheriff said he still has a backlog of about 15,900 unserved warrants, which is down from roughly 16,500 unserved warrants a month ago.

Kimbrough said similar sweeps will take place often in the future.

"This is the sort of teamwork the citizens of Clayton County can expect from their sheriff and police, and local law enforcement agencies and public safety agencies," Kimbrough said. "We could not have done what we did across the last three days without their help."

The involvement of the county's police department is part of an ongoing effort to improve relations between that department and the sheriff's office. Under Hill's leadership, the two agencies were often "bumping heads," Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner said in December.

Before Kimbrough took office, he and Turner pledged to work together to improve public safety in the county.

Police officers have been assisting deputies in clearing up the warrant backlog by gathering information on where the deputies can find wanted men and women. The roundup was one of the department's largest in at least eight years, Kimbrough said.

"This not only exemplifies the cooperation between federal authorities and local jurisdictions, but demonstrates a new spirit of cooperation between the Clayton County Police Department and the Clayton County Sheriff's Department," Deputy Police Chief Tim Robinson said at a joint press conference Friday with Kimbrough.

"This spirit of cooperation and commitment will directly benefit the people of Clayton County," he said.

The people arrested were wanted on warrants for crimes including possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, drug possession, aggravated assault, robbery, theft by deception, forgery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, making false identification records, and a rabies vaccine violation, according to records from the sheriff's office.

"We're going to do our very best to make sure if you've got a warrant on you ... you spend no time out on the street," Kimbrough said. "We will chase you. We will hunt you. You will have no rest until you are put in jail."

Among the 91 people arrested was Kenny Lasalle Taylor, a 25-year-old North Carolina man suspected of robbing 18 banks "up and down the east coast," who was staying at a home in the Lovejoy area, said James Ergas, a supervisory inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service.

Ergas said he did not know of any Georgia banks involved in the crime spree, but said there are several robberies - in several states - where a link to Taylor is under investigation.

Kimbrough urged other people who have warrants out against them in Clayton County to surrender themselves to the sheriff's office.

"The best thing they can do is turn themselves in and submit themselves to the criminal justice process so we don't have to come looking for them," Kimbrough said. "They are going to be caught."