DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann said he is retiring Nov. 30, more than a year before his term in office expires and amid a years-long fight to keep his law enforcement certification. Chief Deputy Melody Maddox will take over as sheriff until a special election is held on a date to still be determined, according to a county spokesperson.

Mann’s certification was revoked two years ago by a state board after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his arrest for allegedly exposing himself to an Atlanta Police officer at Piedmont Park. Mann appealed the revocation and is scheduled to appear before an administrative judge next month.

In a Nov. 14 letter to constituents announcing his retirement, Mann did not give a reason for his retirement but did say he wanted to take the focus off him during next year’s election season. The date for a special election is not yet known, according to a DeKalb spokesperson.

“As this election season approaches, I’d like to leave elected office hopeful that all appropriate and due focus will not be on me but on the phenomenal work our team has accomplished and the substantive challenges that shall continue to shape the best possible future of the entire DeKalb community,” he said.

Mann was arrested May 6, 2017, by an Atlanta Police officer after the officer stated he was patrolling in Piedmont Park “in an area known for sexual acts after dark.” When the officer confronted Mann, the sheriff ran from the park and a foot chase ensued.

Mann was charged with public indecency and obstruction. He was not convicted of public indecency and pleaded guilty to committing “prohibited conduct” in a park and to obstruction charges. He was ordered to pay a fine and was prohibited from visiting Atlanta parks for six months.

Weeks after the arrest, Mann voluntarily suspended himself for one week for “conduct unbecoming.” Gov. Nathan Deal also suspended Mann for 40 days.

The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council revoked Mann’s certification in September 2017 after his guilty pleas. Mann appealed the revocation and is scheduled to go before an administrative law judge on Dec. 9, according to Ryan Powell, deputy executive director of Georgia POST.

“This plays nothing into it,” Powell said of Mann’s retirement announcement. The hearing was originally scheduled for September, he said, but Mann’s attorney requested the two-month delay.

“The judge will hear the case and determine if the sanction of the revocation of certification is appropriate,” Powell said. Powell said he learned of Mann’s announcement today via media reports but said “the hearing will go on.”

“This doesn’t change anything for us. Procedurally, this is how the process works,” Powell said. The judge then typically takes between 30 to 60 days to make a ruling, he said.

In Mann’s letter to constituents, he said it has been an “honor and great privilege to serve as your DeKalb County Sheriff for the past five and one half years” and said one of the crowning achievements of his administration was the office’s work on criminal justice reform.

Mann became sheriff in 2014 when Tom Brown resigned the post. In 2014, he faced Vernon Jones in a runoff election for the post and easily won. He was reelected in 2016.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.