JONESBORO Clayton County Sheriff-elect Victor Hill will receive help from County Manager Wade Starr as he transitions into an office he may, or may not, be able to hold onto.
The Clayton County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to appoint Starr as Hill’s point-of-contact as the former sheriff goes through the transition period to reclaim the office he lost four years ago. If commissioners have their way, the transition from current Sheriff Kem Kimbrough to Hill will go better than the transition from Hill to Kimbrough in December 2008.
County Attorney Jack Hancock and Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said a liaison is needed so the county knows what Hill’s plans are before he takes office Jan. 1.
“We can’t stop him from taking office, at least not legally as far as I know, but we can make sure the transition is as smooth as possible,” Hancock said.
Bell said there have already been rumors circulating about what Hill plans to do upon taking office. For example, he said it is rumored that Hill has already told Clayton County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Luvenia Jackson that he will stop providing school resource officers to the district.
“Then that falls squarely on us,” said Bell. He was alluding to the fact the county police department will likely have to begin offering SROs again if those rumors proved to be true and the sheriff’s office pulls out of its agreement with the school system.
“At least we will be giving you back answers that are not rumors,” Bell said as he recommended establishing the liaison.
During the transition four years ago, Kimbrough complained that he received no cooperation from Hill.
“In order to ensure a smooth transition of the sheriff-elect into the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, Clayton County hereby designates the county manager as the sheriff-elect’s point of contact and directs the county manager to contact the sheriff-elect and assist in developing a transition plan,” the Commission’s resolution states.
But, regardless of how smooth the transition goes from Kimbrough’s administration, to another Hill administration, it could still devolve into chaos in January, when Gov. Nathan Deal decides whether to suspend Hill.
The former and future sheriff was indicted nearly a year ago on a long list of felony charges and his trial is not expected to begin until sometime next year, depending on appeals pending in higher courts. Despite the indictment, Clayton County voters still overwhelmingly decided to return Hill to the sheriff’s office instead of giving Kimbrough a second term.
The Georgia Peace Officers Standards Training Council, also known as POST, has also suspended Hill’s certification until his trial is over. State law mandates Hill must regain his certification within his first six months in order to stay sheriff which means he’ll have until the end of June to get through a trial and apply to get his POST certification re-instated.
Hill will also have to contend with a new commission chairman in January, when former Clayton County Police chief Jeff Turner takes the reigns of the county government. Years ago, when Hill was sheriff and Turner ran the police department, Hill reportedly signed a letter to Turner as “Your future boss.”
When Kimbrough was sworn in to office in December 2008, Turner told Clayton News Daily his relationship with Hill mainly consisted of the two men continually “butting heads” with each other over law enforcement matters.