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Turner to weigh employment options

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

According to Clayton County officials, Clayton Regional Law Enforcement Academy Director Jeff Turner may reconsider his decision this week to resign.

During a closed-door meeting with Clayton County Chief of Staff Alex Cohilas on Friday afternoon, Turner discussed employment options which would allow him to be employed with the county until the completion of the police academy's final night, mandate class. According to Cohilas, the academy still has 25 recruits yet to complete their training.

"He [Turner] came in on Monday, and he turned in his paperwork stating that today would be his last day," Cohilas said. "I have no idea why he did it in advance of the academy shutting down. We have an obligation that we are determined to meet, which is to see this night mandate class to it's completion.

"I had a conversation [on Friday] in which I offered him some options that he hadn't considered before," Cohilas said. "I told him it would be fine for him to think about it over the weekend, and that is where we left it."

Cohilas said the academy would stay open until the completion of the night mandate class, which is scheduled for mid-November. However, the county may pursue an accelerated schedule, in which the recruits finish in late September or early October, he said.

Turner's attorney, Keith Martin, speaking on Turner's behalf, confirmed that Turner would decide Monday whether he would stay on with the academy until it's closure. While the closing date of the academy is uncertain, Martin said Turner must stay employed with the county until Oct. 15, in order to draw retirement benefits at the age of 55.

"We have not determined what date the academy will close for sure, so he [Turner] is considering staying on until it closes," Martin said. "Of course, this is subject to the commissioners' approval. He is to give Cohilas an answer on Monday. Jeff will need until Oct. 15 to draw retirement at the age of 55 ... that is the magic number."

With 24 years and several months of accumulative service to the county, Turner is a couple of months short of the 25 years required to draw retirement benefits at the age of 55. Presently, he will be unable to draw retirement benefits until the age of 60.

When asked if the gesture from the county was an olive branch to Turner, Martin replied, "I can't speak to what their intentions or their motives are. I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I'm not going to give kudos to a group that has hurt my client severely."