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VERIFY: No, the coroner does not have the power to arrest the sheriff in Georgia

In cases where a warrant is issued for a sheriff, who has the power to arrest them?

MACON, Ga. — The Cobb County Police Department is investigating an alleged sexual battery by Bleckley County Sheriff Kris Coody.

According to the warrant, it happened Jan. 18 at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly hotel where the Georgia Sheriff’s Association was holding its winter meeting.

The warrant says Coody was at the bar after hours when he touched the breast of a woman there without her consent. It names the woman, who is a prominent Atlanta-area judge.

When cases like this come up, people often wonder who has the power to arrest a sheriff.

One Central Georgia coroner 13WMAZ that in the past, the only person with that authority was the coroner. 

Is that still the case?

We talked to several Central Georgia coroners including Monroe County's Joey Proctor, Peach County's Kerry Rooks, and Leon Jones in Bibb County to find out.

"At one point in time, the coroner was the only official that could arrest the sheriff," said Monroe County Coroner Joey Proctor.

Proctor says historically, that was true -- the coroner used to have the power to arrest the sheriff, but that's not the case anymore. The law changed more than two decades ago.

"When I went to basic coroner school 26 years ago, the law had changed then, and they made it very clear to us, the coroner could no longer arrest the sheriff," Proctor said.

Coroners do, however, still have the power to serve a sheriff with legal documents.

"If there are no deputies willing to serve civil papers on their boss, then the coroner is authorized to serve those papers," said Proctor.

Peach County Coroner Kerry Rooks also confirmed that the arrest powers are a myth. 

Rooks says any sworn law enforcement official can arrest a sheriff, but coroners cannot. 

We can verify that coroners do not have the power to arrest sheriffs anymore. Any sworn law enforcement has the authority to do that. 

When it comes to removing elected officials, Georgia law lays out two ways for the public to hold them accountable for misconduct.      

The first option is handled by the governor. If a local elected official is indicted by a grand jury, they can be suspended by the governor if a special commission recommends it.

Georgia law also allows citizens to recall elected officials.

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