RIVERDALE, GA -- If his criminal case isn't settled by January first, Victor Hill would likely be a sheriff without law enforcement power, according to a spokesman for the agency that certifies law enforcement officers in Georgia.
Hill's POST certification was stripped after he was indicted on 37 felony counts last year.
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Hill won re-election during a runoff Tuesday. If his criminal case is still pending, Hill could still take office January 1, but would lack the power to make arrests, says POST spokesman Ryan Powell. Meantime, Gov. Deal can take action to remove an elected official who faces felony charges.
Hill's legal troubles didn't matter to a majority of voters in Clayton County though. Street preacher Mary James says she was untroubled by Hill's legal issues.
"The law will take care of that itself. My position is to love Victor Hill just like I love everybody else," James said while preaching through a bullhorn alongside state route 85 in Riverdale.
Victor Hill convinced voters that the criminal charges against him were the result of dirty tricks played by his opponent, incumbent sheriff Kem Kimbrough. And he convinced them the election was about other issues.
"Public transporation, that's what I'm referring to. I hope he'll bring that back to the county," said Patricia Anthony, another Hill backer. "I understand he's in law enforcement. But I hope he would have some kind of impact on transportation."
James said Hill showed a personal touch that appealed to her as well. "When I was arrested for preaching out here, Victor Hill came - he came to my rescue. He apologized, shook my hand," James said. "He's a person that has love of people. And so my choice was automatically Victor Hill."
Clayton County district attorney Tracy Graham Lawson told 11Alive News it would "be in the county's best interest" for Hill to be tried before his swearing-in January 1. However, Lawson says she has no power to schedule the case. A special prosecutor is handling it.
Hill's attorney, Musa Ghanayem countered that Hill's defense team would demand "normal due process," and would resist efforts to hasten the trial to accommodate Hill's January swearing in.
Hill did not respond to requests for comment.