Sheriff Jeffrey Mann announced he was retiring early on Wednesday
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Incoming DeKalb sheriff aims to show young women: ‘You too can do this’

What will it be like for Melody Maddox to step into the role of DeKalb County sheriff next month?

“This is nothing new to me,” said Maddox, who has served as the chief deputy in the sheriff’s office since June. Before that, she was the police chief at Georgia Piedmont Technical College.

Current Sheriff Jeffrey Mann announced Thursday that he will retire 13 months before his term is slated to end. That means Maddox will take over as sheriff, the first woman to hold that position in DeKalb history.

READ MORE: DeKalb County sheriff retiring amid appeal over certification

The DeKalb County Board of Registration & Elections has not yet decided whether a special election for sheriff will be held ahead of the 2020 general election, officials said Friday. Maddox, 53, plans to run to serve a full term as sheriff. Ted GoldenAntonio Johnson and Carl Mobley, three former law enforcement officials, have announced they intend to run for sheriff in 2020.

Melody Maddox is set to become sheriff of DeKalb County Dec. 1. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

When Maddox takes the helm Dec. 1, DeKalb will have a female sheriff and police chief, both the first women to hold their respective positions. Mirtha Ramos began serving as DeKalb’s police chief earlier this month.

Mann, first elected in 2014, is leaving his post amid an appeal to keep his law enforcement certification after a state panel voted to revoke it in 2017. He previously pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction and prohibited conduct after being accused of exposing himself to an Atlanta officer at Piedmont Park and running away to avoid arrest in 2017.

Maddox, who was appointed by Mann to be chief deputy, said they share the same vision for the sheriff’s office, which oversees the county jail and security at DeKalb’s courts.

“We want to get the community to be able to trust us, and know that we are here to serve the community,” Maddox said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday.

Melody Maddox speaks at the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

She said Mann should be commended for his criminal justice reform efforts that involved bolstering services for inmates at the jail. The sheriff’s office has instituted a GED program for inmates, vocational training, career preparedness services and classes that address mental health and substance abuse issues. Maddox said she would like to continue growing the programs.

“We just want to make sure that when these inmates are released to the community, they have the necessary resources available for them to become productive citizens,” she said.

Over the past year, the county has seen protests from activists who said inmates are subject to poor and unsafe conditions inside the jail. Mann has refuted claims that human rights violations are occurring at the jail, but said earlier this year that he was working to address a black mold problem. Maddox said she will be “assessing” those issues, but said they have largely been addressed.

She said it is “exciting” to be the first female sheriff in DeKalb, “but it doesn’t take away my leadership skills that I’ve already been (using) in the community.”

But she still sees herself as a role model, adding that “I want to show other young ladies that you too can do this.”

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