By Curt Yeomans
Two vehicles seized in a drug raid will now be used to help nab criminals.
The five-member Clayton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the acceptance of a 1998 Dodge Ram truck, and a 2001 Ford Crown Victoria, on the behalf of the county's sheriff's office, on Tuesday.
The commission's resolution to accept the vehicles states they must be used by the Clayton County Sheriff's Office to enhance law enforcement in the county.
Clayton County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Garland Watkins explained the county obtained the vehicles through the forfeiture process last year, after they were confiscated during a drug seizure. He said a decision had not yet been made about how the vehicles will be used by the sheriff's office.
"They may be used in an undercover capacity," Watkins said. "I think one of them is a Ford Crown Vic, so that may be used as a 'police' car, and the other one is a pick-up truck, so it just depends. What we'll probably do is assign them to plain clothes units."
The chief deputy said inserting the vehicles into the sheriff's office's fleet will help, because there are not enough in the fleet right now to "forward our operations." Watkins said, however, the office does not regularly add seized cars to its fleet.
"There's not been many," Watkins said. "A lot of them [seized cars] are not usable, and a lot of them are not worth keeping. Some of them -- if they have extremely high mileage on them, or it's just not something that's really going to benefit the agency -- then we'll just have those vehicles auctioned off."
In other action, several senior citizens pleaded with the commissioners again to rescind fee increases at the county's senior centers. The commission voted in December to increase the fees, from $1 per year, to $12 a year for county residents, and from $10 a year, to $180 annually for out-of-county residents. Since then, senior citizens have been attending commission meetings, to plead for lower fees.
On Tuesday, seniors delivered a set of petitions to the commission, which they said contained the signatures of approximately 100 senior center users. Several Clayton seniors appeared to vent their outrage over the fees.
"I think what is being done to the seniors is outrageous," said Morrow resident, Ida Knight, who uses the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center, in Jonesboro. "Although I live in Clayton County, all of my friends that I've met at the center live out-of-county, and they cannot go from $10, to $180."
Commissioners did not respond to the comments from seniors.