By Linda Looney-Bond
Clayton County sheriff's deputies are undergoing a makeover that includes a number of new uniform components.
The sheriff's office's six-point badge is being replaced by a seven-point badge, and deputies will be getting uniform pants in a different color along with new shirt patches with larger lettering.
"In the interest of public safety, we had to change the badges," Sheriff Kem Kimbrough said.
Some badges and other items were not accounted for when Kimbrough took over as sheriff in January, according to Sgt. Sonja Sanchez, a sheriff's office spokesperson.
"People who were terminated or who resigned may not have turned in all of their equipment," said Sanchez.
Kimbrough said the seven-point badge will help the public identify legitimate sworn deputies of the sheriff's office.
The new badges cost $120 each, according to Sanchez. Each deputy has an annual uniform allowance of $550, which covers that cost, she said.
Sheriff's office supervisors were issued new badges Friday during a pinning ceremony.
Badges for other sworn deputies have been ordered, according to Sanchez. She said all sworn deputies are expected to have the new badges by April 1.
As of April, "if they don't see the seven-point badge, they're not dealing with a sheriff's deputy," said Kimbrough.
In addition, Kimbrough said each new badge displays a number, which he said will increase accountability and help the public identity sheriff's deputies.
Sanchez said the seven points on the new badge represent the seven cities in Clayton County: Jonesboro, Riverdale, Forest Park, Morrow, Lovejoy, Lake City and College Park.
Other changes to deputies' uniforms include new patches with larger letters and new, striped trousers.
"We changed the pants so we're a little more distinct now," Kimbrough said.
Previously, deputies' pants were a solid navy blue, whereas the new pants are "slate blue with a navy blue stripe," said Sanchez.
Supervisors with the rank of captain and above will also now wear white shirts, according to Sanchez. Previously only supervisors with a rank of major or higher wore white shirts, she said.
"We want to re-establish our identity as a sheriff's department," said Kimbrough.