Henry Commission chairwoman receiving police protection after threats

Henry County Commission Chairwoman Carlotta Harrell has been issued a security detail after threats against her life.
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Henry County Commission Chairwoman Carlotta Harrell has been issued a security detail after threats against her life.

Credit: JOHN SPINK

Henry County Chairwoman Carlotta Harrell said she has had to request a security detail after threats on her life and harassment on social media, email, phone calls and texts.

Harrell, who has led the south metro Atlanta community’s government since January, made the announcement earlier this week at the end of a Henry County Commission meeting. She did not go into detail about the threats or reveal who was making them.

“I’m tired of all the attacks,” said Harrell, a former police officer. “I’ve had my life threatened. I’ve had to have restraining orders taken out and issued. And I continue to be harassed.”

The security measures come in a tough year for the Henry Commission. The board largely demonstrated unity in pushing for a recently passed TSPLOST and agreeing to pay for more police vehicles to replace ones that were more than 20 years old.

But Harrell clashed with fellow Democrats over a state law she helped push that let the Henry County Republican Party nominate candidates to temporarily replace District 3 Commissioner Gary Barham after his sudden death in March. The board also had to cancel two meetings in November because it failed to meet a quorum when three of the group’s six members did not show up.

Henry Solicitor General Pam Bettis told the audience at this week’s board meeting that Harrell is not the only elected official who has been threatened and offered other commissioners protection if necessary.

“Based on the physical threats that have been made to her person, I agreed with the sheriff (Reginald Scandrett) that this security detail was important,” Bettis said. “Mrs. Harrell is not the only official who has had threats against her life, and that’s unfortunate in our day and time.”

Jeff Turner, chairman of the neighboring Clayton County Commission, said it’s not unusual for elected leaders to face angry constituents. But he said it is smart to get protection when the displeasure escalates to threats of physical harm.

“We have to take those types of situations seriously,” said Turner, a former chief of police. “If she has even a perceived threat against her person, I think she is doing the right thing.”

Harrell said she just wants to do her job without being threatened.

“I ran for this position because I love this county,” she said. “And I want to do what’s best.”