JONESBORO — Clayton County sheriff-elect Victor Hill said in his first interview after winning Tuesday’s run-off that he’s a “more mature, wiser person” than he was when he left that same office four years ago.
Hill, 47, left the office in defeat to Kem Kimbrough in 2008. The two men faced each other again this year, with Hill the victor. Although Hill can claim the battle with Kimbrough, he still has hurdles to clear before taking office and serving as a sheriff without legal baggage. He faces a 37-count felony indictment and conviction on any of the charges means an end to his political and law enforcement career.
Hill took to the airwaves Thursday afternoon in an interview on www.futuremovementradio.net with Pat Baccas, the site’s founder and CEO, and Rashad Richey, the political director for the Georgia Democratic Party. Hill told the pair he has grown in maturity since 2008.
“I am a more mature, wiser person,” said Hill. “My spiritual growth — I have no anger or revenge. I just want to do a good job. The real story is what I’ve learned. I’m a more patient man.”
He may need that newfound patience in the coming months. Although there is no trial date set in his case, Hill’s defense attorney, Steve Frey, has said he is hopeful to get the charges disposed of “soon.” If Hill remains under indictment when he is sworn into office Jan. 1, he faces possible suspension of his duties by Gov. Deal until his charges are resolved.
Deal could appoint an interim sheriff until Hill’s case is over.
His certification as a law enforcement officer was suspended by Georgia’s Peace Officers Standard and Training Council after he was indicted in January. Without that certification, Hill has no arresting powers and cannot function as a law enforcement officer. Under the sheriff’s qualifications, Hill has six months after taking office to get POST-certified or he becomes ineligible to hold office.
If he is convicted, Hill faces years in prison. As a convicted felon, he would not be eligible to hold public office or work as a law enforcement officer. If Hill is exonerated, the POST suspension would be lifted and he would be free to continue his term.
The charges against Hill include theft by taking, lying, influencing a witness, violation of the oath of public office and racketeering — most related to incidents alleged during his time in office. Hill pleaded not guilty to all charges and maintains his innocence.
During Thursday’s interview, Hill focused on returning to work and glossed over his upcoming legal battles.
“The citizens showed they had my back and I’m gonna show them I have their back,” he said. “I want to bring the perception back that criminals don’t feel safe in Clayton County. They can’t go there and indulge in their criminal activities. I plan to work with the confidence and love the voters have shown me.”
Hill credited God for helping him and giving him a second chance.
“There are a lot of stories in the Bible about leaders who God had to humble,” he said. “He made me better and gave me a second chance. It’s amazing. There are certain scriptures I had to read when I went through what I went through. People will tell you God will fight your battles. It’s not easy to hear but literally on Aug. 21 He fought the battle for me. My faith is strengthened.”
Hill also alluded to the law enforcement motto “to serve and to protect.”
“To be great, you have to serve,” he said. “We’re not coming to be served, we’re coming to serve. In law enforcement, we serve and protect, you gotta keep that in the forefront. To serve people, that’s how to accomplish something great and put a stop to the nonsense.”
Hill, who has previously compared himself to Gen. George Washington, fictional crime fighter Batman, Muhammad Ali, explorer Christopher Columbus and Jesus, made another biblical comparison at the end of the interview.
“I’m like Jonah,” he said. “I was put in a fish and shook up and now I’m on dry land.”
When the interview ended, Richey called Hill’s saga “a helluva story in politics.” Hill previously laughed off a suggestion he write a book about his experiences.
“He came back,” said Richey. “The experience has made him a bigger, better and stronger person.”
Baccas, who was born in Jamaica, founded www.futuremovementradio.net four years ago to provide a voice for her fellow Caribbean immigrants, according to her website. She previously worked as an on-air personality at WLIB, WLKN and WWRL.