DEKALB COUNTY, Ga - Channel 2 Action News has learned that DeKalb County's public safety director wants to form a new corruption unit, given recent allegations against several public officials.
The decision comes in the wake of the indictment of the county's former CEO, the failing of polygraphs by the county's director of contracts and a county commissioner who just admitted she charged personal expenses on her county debit card.
"It certainly is embarrassing," Dr. Cedric Alexander told investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer, referring to the pattern of alleged corruption. "At this point I believe we all would concur that something needs to be done."
Dr. Alexander discussed the idea with Interim CEO Lee May this week, after Fleischer asked him about a federal racketeering indictment pending in South Carolina which alleges a DeKalb Commissioner solicited bribes from a Florida developer.
"We've gone through a really tough space here in DeKalb County and honestly, the public's trust has been eroded," said May.
Former DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis was suspended from his elected position following his indictment on charges of shaking down county vendors for campaign contributions, manipulation of contracts and lying under oath.
Court records said that DeKalb's Director of Contracting and Purchasing Kelvin Walton, who is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Ellis case, failed several polygraphs when asked if he exchanged contracts for kickbacks or bribes.
Last month, Commissioner Elaine Boyer and her top aide admitted charging personal expenses on their county debit cards.
"One thing we're clear about, we want what's best for this county and we're going to be very thoughtful and methodical in terms of putting this together," said Alexander.
He said he will begin contacting other departments around the country immediately and develop a plan based on the most successful models he finds.
Alexander's predecessor, William "Wiz" Miller, disbanded the department's corruption unit in 2010 after officer’s uncovered evidence against several ranking county officials. Last year, a special grand jury recommended Miller for criminal investigation in the cover-up.
Alexander says the new unit will be different.
"Wherever the facts lead, that's where we're going to follow. The unit will not be disbanded because it begins to determine information someone may not like," he said.
He said he's prepared to partner with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI, to build cases that need state or federal oversight, or should be prosecuted at those levels.
"We want to do it not just in name only but substantively, so what's put in place outlives me and Dr. Alexander in our roles," said May.
Alexander said he does not yet have a time frame as to when the unit might begin operation, but he says he's beginning his research immediately.
"If I'm going to be involved in it, it's going to be done right," said Alexander, "It keeps people mindful of the fact that someone is watching."