Clayton Commission considering naming Victor Hill pick as interim sheriff

The Clayton County Commission is considering naming an interim sheriff who is backed by the office’s former leader: federally convicted felon Victor Hill.

The commission over the weekend proposed making changes to a succession ordinance that would allow a chief deputy or highest ranking official within a department to fill an open position until a special election. It received a first reading on Tuesday.

If the ordinance is amended, it will clear the way for Levon Allen, chief deputy of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, to be appointed interim sheriff — a move Hill celebrated online over the weekend. It would also give Allen the advantage of running as an incumbent in the upcoming special election.

“The changing of the guard,” Hill’s social media manager Carl Johnson said in describing a photo posted on Facebook on Sunday that captured Hill and Allen sitting at a table under a photo of Marlon Brando in “The Godfather.”

“Retired Sheriff Victor Hill and incoming Sheriff Levon Allen discussed strategy while sparring on the chess board,” the post said.

Clayton Commission Chairman Jeff Turner said late Tuesday afternoon he planned to try to remove the ordinance from the agenda because he thinks the legislation has been misconstrued. He said the county’s legal department had written it in an attempt to remedy the succession issue but caused more concern than intended.

”I’m going to pull it provided I have the votes,” he said, adding he thinks the other commissioners will agree with him.

It is unclear if Hill has officially retired from county employment. He was stripped of his law enforcement certification after being convicted in October of violating the civil rights of detainees at the Clayton jail. Before that, Hill was suspended from his duties as sheriff by Gov. Brian Kemp after Hill was indicted in 2021 on the charges.

Kemp’s office has said it is not sure how succession will work after the conviction.

“The governor’s ability to act following this verdict is dependent on the construct of local law,” the governor’s office said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Greg Bluestein. “As such, the governor’s legal team is in the process of reviewing relevant statutes to determine what steps can be taken and the necessary protocol for those steps.

“Once a determination has been made, it will be shared with community stakeholders and the public.”

In addition, Kemp’s office said Roland Boehrer, the chief deputy at the time of Hill’s conviction, would fill the sheriff’s shoes until a decision could be made. But Boehrer is retiring from the sheriff’s office at the end of the year and Allen was appointed to succeed him hours after Hill’s conviction, according to reporting from Clayton Crescent reporter Robin Kemp.

Hill will be sentenced in February.

According to the ordinance proposal, Clayton Commission leaders suggested the changes because of an absence of state laws on the succession process.

“If state law does not provide a process for filling the vacancy, in the event a vacancy occurs in the office of any county officer ... by any reason whatsoever, other than the expiration of the officer’s term of office, the chief deputy or highest ranking official within the affected county office shall fill the vacancy until such time that the office is filled by election, appointment or otherwise,” the proposed ordinance says.

The commission has marked Tuesday’s discussion as a first reading of the proposed change. It says the change will go into effect Jan. 3 if approved, suggesting it could be given a second reading and vote between Christmas and the new year.

Several Clayton residents are crying foul.

On Monday, they said changing the ordinance and appointing Allen puts the commissioners’ thumbs on the scale in favor of the deputy sheriff.

“I’m very concerned that the chief deputy will have an unfair advantage if he is allowed to have incumbent by his name if he runs in the special election in March,” said Clayton resident Attania Jean-Funny.

Funny called on the commission to table to the motion, arguing that it was unfair to take up such consequential legislation during the holidays when the public’s focus is elsewhere.

Resident Drew Andrews concurred. He said the timing is suspicious and sullies the Clayton government’s already less-than-stellar reputation.

“There’s a cloud of corruption over Clayton County,” he said. “There’s a stench. Anyone who is still connected to the sheriff’s office, they are tainted. I think the community needs a fresh start.”