Parents, community leaders react to Worth Co. Sheriff suspension

Published: Nov. 13, 2017 at 6:38 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2017 at 1:11 AM EST
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ATLANTA, GA (WALB) - Community leaders and parents reacted to Governor Nathan Deal's decision to suspend Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced Monday that he has suspended Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby, effective immediately, after the sheriff was indicted for his office's controversial drug search of students at the high school.

No successor was named.

Parents were excited to hear Governor Deal's decision to suspend Sheriff Hobby but community leaders that are calling for a full recall of his position said there's still more to be done.

"She said the officer went at angles both sides when she was underneath her panty line," Amaryllis Coleman explained.

Coleman was one of many parents who shared the disturbing details of what her daughter experienced during a controversial drug search at Worth County High School in April.

Then, she was demanding answers. Now, she's saying thank you.

In a text, Coleman wrote, "maybe that 'I'm above the law' mentality has been knocked down a notch. I will take this suspension."

Sheriff Hobby was recently indicted for violating the rights of students at Worth County High School during a drug sweep last spring.

Governor Deal appointed a review commission to investigate Hobby's indictment for violating the rights of students at Worth County High School during that a drug sweep last spring.

State Attorney General Christopher Carr, Sheriff Mitch Ralston of Gordon County, and Sheriff Terry Deese of Peach County made up a review commission to investigate the charges against Hobby and two of his deputies.

Governor Deal gave the panel 14 days to issue a report to him, as to whether Sheriff Hobby should be suspended from office, which the governor has the authority to do.

On November 9, the group recommended Hobby be suspended from office.

Coleman wrote, "a big thanks goes out to the review commission board and Governor Nathan Deal for making the right decision."

Sylvester NAACP Chapter President, Benjamin Whidby, who pushed for a petition to recall the sheriff, said it's a small win.

"What this says is, he's guilty if he just owns up to what he's done to these students," explained Whidby.

The Citizens Support Group for Sheriff Hobby which formed as a direct response to the NAACP petition said they were "all disappointed in this decision but remain in full support of Sheriff Hobby and Worth co sheriff office."

Jeff Hobby's arrest powers, and those of the two deputies named in the indictment, have already been stripped by the Georgia POST Commission.

Here is the Governor's order-

The Sylvester Police Department did their own search March 17, and found no illegal drugs, but was not involved with the sheriff's search.  

Sheriff Hobby said in April that as long as a school administrator was present, the personal search of the children was legal.

Saying that the search was "intrusive, performed in an aggressive manner, and done in full view of other students," several families filed a federal lawsuit against the sheriff.

The Georgia Sheriff's Association could not comment on Sheriff Hobby's indictment or the criminal aspect of the case.

But Executive Director Terry Norris gave us this statement:

"The Governor will name an interim sheriff or sheriff to sit in his position until the final disposition of the case. If it's a not guilty verdict, then sheriff Hobby can return to his post. If it's a guilty verdict then he cannot continue to serve as the sheriff and the office would become vacant unless there's a chief deputy in place. If not, then the probate judge will appoint someone. The criminal case will occur sometime in January and is expected to be resolved by then."

We called Sheriff Hobby's attorney - he did not return our calls.

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