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Sheriff plowing through warrant backlog

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough is addressing crime in the county with an effort to clear out a backlog of the department's unserved warrants.

The sheriff's warrant division is arresting 10 to 20 people per day on outstanding warrants, a department spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"The clear message is: Beware, there's a new sheriff in town, and his name is Kem Kimbrough," said sheriff's Sgt. Sonja Sanchez. "We are making a diligent effort to serve each of these warrants."

Overall, deputies have spent the past two weeks tackling a backlog of outstanding warrants by working as many as 50 cases per day, said Sanchez. She said there are "quite a few" unserved warrants left over from the administration of former Sheriff Victor Hill, but could not specify how many warrants needed to be served.

The warrant division is tackling the problem by prioritizing the warrants according to the severity of the offense in question.

Warrants for people who allegedly committed felonies, including rape and murder, are given the highest priority, Sanchez said.

Warrant applications can be initiated by several people within the justice system, including judges, officers, deputies and detectives, according to Sanchez. Once the warrant has been approved by a judge, it is sent to the warrant division of the sheriff's office. Deputies then begin gathering information on the location of the person named in the warrant and attempt an arrest.

"For people who have outstanding warrants, this lets them know we are out there looking for them," said Sanchez.

Sheriff's deputies are receiving assistance in locating wanted individuals from the Clayton County Police Department. Police Chief Jeff Turner said the teamwork involving the police officers and sheriff's deputies is part of an ongoing effort to increase cooperation between the departments.

Turner said he pledged his department's support to the deputies in this effort because he believes it will help bring down the county's crime rate.

"It's extremely beneficial to the community from the standpoint of removing criminals from the streets," said Turner. "The longer they remain on the streets, that means they are more likely to commit another crime."