0115iGAslainchiefA.p11 Diversifying the department was part of slain chief's plan [DeKalb County, GA] Brenden Sager January 14, 2001 Copyright 2001 Cox News Service Cox News Service January 14, 2001
(DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.) -- After Derwin Brown was elected DeKalb County's sheriff last summer, he and Assistant DeKalb Police Chief Eddie Moody would sit in Moody's office and swap ideas on how to make the county a better place. "Derwin's attitude was he saw a need for change," Moody said.
Combined, Moody and Brown had served 50 years on the DeKalb police force. Both already had seen dramatic changes in their community, especially in race relations.
Moody, 46, who grew up in the county, recalled childhood days when car loads of white teens would chase him into the woods near his home while screaming racial slurs.
Now he and Brown were among the most powerful law enforcement officers in the community.
Brown would be sheriff. Moody hoped one day to become chief of the DeKalb department, the largest county police agency in the southeastern United States.
This month, Moody did become chief, in an interim capacity. He got the job in a way he hardly expected -- after the shocking murder of his long-time friend, Derwin Brown. Brown's Dec. 15 slaying, which authorities have called an assassination, caused a shake-up in DeKalb's police leadership that resulted in Moody's promotion.
During the time Moody and Brown policed DeKalb County, the community changed from a mostly white suburb to one with almost equal numbers of blacks and whites and rising numbers of Asians and Hispanics.
When Brown won the sheriff's job in the election last summer, he ousted an African-American sheriff, Sidney Dorsey. In 2000, DeKalb also elected its first African-American CEO, Vernon Jones.
Thomas Brown, the county's first African-American public safety director, now serves as interim sheriff and plans to run for the job in a March 20 special election. Police Chief Bobby Burgess was appointed interim public safety director, and Moody was tapped as interim chief.
When Moody began his DeKalb police career in 1973, he said, he was one of five minority officers on the force. During roll call, Moody said he usually had the only face that wasn't white. "It was very intimidating," Moody said. " Of course, there were officers who weren't so kind with their jokes and comments." As the county's population changed, more African-Americans joined the force. Still, when time came for promotions or specialized training for jobs as detectives, black officers felt slighted, Moody said.
Moody and Derwin Brown were officers in the Association of Law Enforcement Officers of DeKalb, an organization of minority officers who sued the police department in federal court in 1979.
"One of the great things that happened because of their suit was the inspiration and initiative it gave to African-American officers throughout the metro area," said Brian Spears, an attorney who was involved in the suit.
The suit led to a consent decree in 1980 that directed the DeKalb department to staff 27 percent of its supervisory and personnel ranks with minorities by 1986. Moody estimated minorities now hold about 40 percent of the jobs in the department.