By M.J. Subiria Arauz
Former Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner -- who was removed as head of the police force by the county's board of commissioners, on allegations of mismanagement that were never fully backed up -- has formally announced his intention to be a candidate for the office of Clayton County Sheriff.
Turner made the announcement outside the county's Board of Elections and Registration Office, at the Historic Jonesboro Courthouse, on Friday.
He said he plans to run for sheriff because the county "needs improvement" in its public safety area. "We could be doing better," he said.
When asked if he could elaborate on his comment, Turner responded, "I am not going to elaborate on that right now."
The former police chief and head of the county's now-defunct police academy, was at the elections office to fill out the State Ethics Commission Declaration of Intention to Accept Campaign Contributions form, on Friday, according to Bob Newton, a spokesperson for Turner. The office, Newton said, advised the former chief to complete it online. "He has to go online tonight," said Newton.
Turner was removed as head of the Clayton County Police Department by the board of commissioners, after the board publicly accused him, in December 2009, of mismanaging the department. The board then voted to transfer Turner to lead the Clayton Regional Enforcement Academy, on Dec. 29, 2009.
The board also voted to make the academy a separate department from the police department. Less than a year later, however, it eliminated the academy -- in August of 2010 -- leaving Turner without a job.
Turner said, Friday, he has been teaching criminal justice at a university, which he declined to name. He also said that he moved from Henry County to Morrow, late last year.
He said he believes he has a lot of supporters in Clayton County, who want him to run for sheriff. "My heart is in Clayton County," he said. "I grew up here," he added with a smile.
Party primary elections for the November 2012 general elections will be held in the summer of 2012. Others, who have already indicated their interest in seeking the Office of Sheriff of Clayton County are current Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, and former Sheriff Victor Hill, who lost an extremely close contest for the seat, to Kimbrough, in 2008.
Hill reportedly filed paperwork at the Board of Elections and Registration Office earlier this month. He served one term as sheriff, before he lost his re-election bid in 2008. His term was filled with controversy, literally from his first day on the job, when he fired 27 deputies, an action that led to a lawsuit that cost millions of dollars to resolve.
Kimbrough, who is serving his first term, is currently, himself, dealing with controversy surrounding a deputy -- Alicia Parkes -- who has been indicted by a county grand jury on charges based on allegations that she used her cell phone to record a fellow employee in a bathroom at the county jail, without that employee's consent.