A disgraced Atlanta-area sheriff was suspended Monday after a barrage of comments calling for his removal appeared online. The sheriff has clung to his job despite the fact that he faces severe obscenity charges. His suspension, set to last 40 days, was ordered by the governor.
There’s nothing worse than a dirty cop. The crooked men and women in blue damage their profession by eroding public trust. In the age of Millennials, where everyone is both a videographer and an aspiring social media star, law enforcement’s conduct is critical. There’s no room for mistakes when everything is caught on camera.
DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann was humiliated last month after fellow officers caught him pleasuring himself in a park. Instead of submitting gracefully, Mann attempted to flee. His county may never look at law enforcement the same again. Mann’s descent from a respectable man in charge to a convict running from the police is alarming.
Immediately after his arrest residents began demanding Mann’s removal from the office. The sheriff has refused. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal limited Mann’s suspension to a mere 40 days. Once he’s back in office residents will have to launch a new battle for dismissal.
Mann’s legal battles, however, are far from over. He’s scheduled for trial on July 7th and the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council is conducting its own investigation. Th council could decide to revoke his license, effectively ending his law enforcement career.
“The job that Sheriff Jeff Mann has been doing has been superb,” Commissioner Greg Adams, a former DeKalb County police officer, said. “The entire sheriff’s department, from the deputy sheriffs that patrol the street even to the jailers have a great deal of respect for his leadership.”
“Being a police officer, I know first-hand that things can be misconstrued. I hope there was a misinterpretation. I’m sorry it happened to him, but as it stands I trust his ability to lead the county forward as sheriff.”
Adams’ confidence isn’t widely shared. Other county officials expressed dismay when questioned about Mann. The sheriff is accused of a particularly disgusting crime and there’s little reason to believe that there’s been a mistake. He was caught fondling himself by another officer. Although he attempted to flee, he didn’t get far.
According to documents: “An incident report said a police officer saw Mann expose himself May 6, then flee when the officer identified himself and turned his flashlight on Mann. He was apprehended about a quarter-mile away after leading the officer on a foot chase through Midtown Atlanta streets.”
Mann’s own lawyer didn’t even attempt to establish his client’s innocence. Instead, he tried to prove that the governor was acting outside of his jurisdiction by suspending Mann. The attorney argued that “ the state law authorizing the investigation only covers alleged misconduct in his official capacity of sheriff, and that the city ordinance violations he was charged with didn’t amount to criminal charges that would justify an investigation.”
It’s a paltry defense. Being guilty of a sex crime obviously hinders his ability to do his job. He’s lost the county’s trust. He’s proven himself to be an unstable, unreliable character. Police officers shouldn’t get off the hook for public exposure. Mann chose to pleasure himself in a park where children could have come upon him. His slimy actions deserve to be punished.
“I cannot ask my employees to abide by a code of conduct unless I am willing to subject myself to it as well,” Mann wrote in an email after the incident. “In fact, I must be held to an even higher standard.”
“The mere fact of placing myself in a position to be arrested is sufficient reason for this self-imposed discipline. I cannot, in good faith, fail to take responsibility for the negative and unwanted criticism brought to this great agency and the county, and I apologize to each of you. You deserve a leader who takes responsibility for his actions.”
Mann’s self-imposed punishment was a one-week suspension with pay.