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Questions linger as state launches investigation into arrest of DeKalb Sheriff

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Questions linger as state launches investigation into arrest of DeKalb Sheriff

Jeff Mann, DeKalb County Sheriff

Jeff Mann, DeKalb County Sheriff

This story has been updated. 

A state agency that certifies police officers is investigating the recent arrest of DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann on charges of public indecency.

One top law enforcement official said if the sheriff is convicted of the charges, he should consider resigning.

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Mann’s office did not respond to a request for an update on Monday following Sunday’s revelation that he had been arrested by Atlanta Police over the weekend.

According to a police report, Mann was arrested after he was allegedly found masturbating in Piedmont Park. The report alleges he ran from an Atlanta Police officer before being apprehended. Mann’s office has said the sheriff is “working to clear these charges.” Mann is charged with public indecency and obstruction.

Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council Director of Operations Ryan Powell confirmed the agency’s investigation to Decaturish.

“A P.O.S.T. investigation will be opened and once all of the information will be gathered it will be presented to our council for any possible action,” Powell said. Depending on the outcome of the investigation – and whether the charges against him hold up in court – Mann could be placed on probation or his peace officer certification could be revoked, Powell said.

Questions remain surrounding the arrest and his future with the office is uncertain at this time. According to the report, Mann was in an area of Piedmont Park that was known for its sexual activity. Mann hasn’t offered an alternative explanation about the arrest.

Terry Norris, executive director Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, said state law allows the governor to appoint two sheriffs and the attorney general to review any allegations against a county sheriff. A sheriff can be suspended for up to 90 days, under that process. Using that same process, the governor could request the county’s district attorney to petition the courts to have the sheriff removed.

“It’s behavior that’s unbecoming to anyone, particularly a sheriff or peace officer, if the charges are accurate,” Norris said.

When Decaturish asked the DeKalb county District Attorney’s office for comment, the DA provided a copy of state code regarding investigation and suspensions against county sheriffs:

Official Code of Georgia 15-16-26

Norris said if Mann is found guilty of the charges, he should consider resigning.

“If this did occur, a good option would be to reconsider whether you need to be sheriff,” Norris said.

Other county officials were reluctant to comment on the case. CEO Michael Thurmond did not return a message seeking comment. Messages left with commissioners Steve Bradshaw and Kathie Gannon also went unanswered.

Commissioner Jeff Rader said, “I don’t have any sufficient information to make a decision, so I’m not going to speculate.”

Commissioner Nancy Jester noted that the sheriff isn’t accountable to the county commission and the whole story hasn’t been heard. That said, the accusation does pose some challenges.

“It’s embarrassing,” she said. “It’s embarrassing for DeKalb because it’s just really a terrible headline. I think he’s going to have challenges being a leader of that agency with something like this out there.”

Mann was elected to the office in 2014, defeating Vernon Jones. Mann was the incumbent appointed by his predecessor, Tom Brown, left that seat to run for U.S. House District 4 against incumbent Hank Johnson. Mann was reelected in November.

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