Athens County Commissioners Name New Temporary Sheriff
A Sheriff's department in turmoil is about to undergo a change in leadership.
Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly, currently under indictment, is expected to be suspended from office. On Thursday, County Commissioners appointed an "Acting Interim Sheriff" to take his place.
Even after his indictment two months ago, Sheriff Pat Kelly said he would not step down, even planning to fight the Attorney General's effort to remove him.
But on Wednesday, Kelly relented, forcing county leader to move quickly to appoint a temporary successor.
Thursday morning, Athens County Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint Rodney Smith as Interim Acting Sheriff.
Facing a 25 count indictment on charges ranging from theft in office to money laundering, Kelly is expected to be suspended from office by the Ohio Supreme Court, at the request of the state Attorney General.
"We wanted to make sure the moment this occurs, and it's pretty obvious it's going to occur, that we had a Sheriff,” said Commissioner Charlie Adkins. “So to protect the citizens of Athens County, we took this step today."
Rodney Smith retired last year after 26 years with the Athens County Sheriff's Office.
"And I was always very mindful never to discredit myself, my profession or my community," said Smith.
His ideas for the Sheriff's Office include a Major Crimes Task Force with neighboring agencies and a focus on community policing.
He declined to talk about Sheriff Kelly or his troubles, saying now is a time to focus on the future.
"The only thing I can say is we're going to prove ourselves every day. Every day we show up for work we're going to be working for the citizens of Athens County."
Smith will serve as Acting Interim Sheriff.
Since Sheriff Kelly is an elected Democrat, the Athens County Democratic Party leadership will be the ones to select an interim replacement Sheriff, and Smith hopes it will be him.
That decision is expected April 8th.