Camden Sheriff-Elect Calls For Bill Smith To Resign
Commission Chair To Sheriff: Don't Sell Equipment
ST. MARYS, Ga. – The man elected to replace long-time Camden County Sheriff Bill Smith said the department was going to sell off new police cruisers and other items of value and shows no willingness to cooperate in a transition to the new administration.
Tommy Gregory defeated Smith in Georgia's Republican primary on July 15 and there is no Democratic opponent in the race, so he would assume the office in January.
Smith has served as Camden County Sheriff for more than two decades. His father and grandfather were also sheriffs in the county.
Gregory said he heard from employees at the sheriff's office last week that Smith was planning to sell patrol cars and other equipment of value to fund his budget for the remainder of the year.
"It's not our old cars -- it's our new cars," Gregory told Channel 4's Diane Cho. "They also said he was putting a list together of letting 16 employees go."
Gregory said that since Smith would not take his calls, he called Preston Rhodes, chairman of the Camden County Commission.
On Thursday, Rhodes sent Smith by courier this "urgent" memo: "Our office respectfully requests that no County property that is within the possession and/or control of the Sheriff's office or any member of its staff, is sold, donated, transferred, removed or otherwise disposed of prior to the swearing in of a new Sheriff."
"Such items include, but are not limited to computers, weapons, tactical equipment, office supplies, etc. which are deemed by law to be owned by the Camden County Board of County Commissioners."
Smith did not return Channel 4's calls for comment.
On Tuesday, Gregory said he was so concerned that Smith's actions would "trash" the department and make his job of restoring the department more difficult.
"He needs to do the right thing and just step up to the plate, resign, and allow me to go in there and fix this mess," Gregory said. "If I started today, it would take three or four months. If I allow him to continue on this path of what he's trying to do right now, it would be in such financial ruins on Jan. 1, it would take me six months to clean it up."
Gregory said he's tried to personally tried contact Smith four or five times and urged him in local media to work with him so the employees and Camden County citizens will no there'll be no disruption in the department.
"We have five months," Gregory said. "I'm willing to go more than half-way, or 90 percent of the way to make this transition smooth.
- July 16, 2008: Former Deputy Ousts Long-Time Camden Sheriff
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