jeffrey mann
Sheriff Jeffrey Mann claims the arrest was a misunderstanding Dekalb County Sheriff's Office

A police department in Georgia has become embroiled in yet another scandal after its sheriff was arrested for allegedly exposing himself and committing indecent acts in a local park.

Since 1965, almost every full-term sheriff of DeKalb County, Atlanta, has faced criminal charges.

Incumbent Sheriff Jeffrey Mann continued tradition when he was charged with indecency and obstruction over the weekend.

Police say Mann bolted after being confronted by an officer on a bicycle in Piedmont Park on Saturday (6 May).

He had exposed his genitals while unwittingly walking towards the officer in an area known for "sexual acts after dark", an incident report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said.

The report said once Mann got within 10 feet, the officer turned his flashlight on the sheriff, identified himself as police and commanded him to stop.

Mann, who oversees law enforcement in the state's fourth largest county, was said to have fled. He allegedly led the officer into oncoming traffic on a quarter-mile chase before finally giving up.

"I continued to watch the male run while I waited to cross 10th Street and its traffic near Argonne Street," the pursuing officer stated in the report. "The male had stopped to tie his shoes. I got approximately 10 to 15 feet from the male before he noticed my approach. The male immediately stopped fixing his shoes and started running again."

As Mann lost ground to the officer he finally surrendered, the report stated. He was arrested and charged with indecency and obstruction.

While in custody, the sheriff allegedly asked an officer to speak with his supervisor, who he referenced by name. He also asked to go to his car to get his ID but was told no.

Mann was booked into Atlanta city jail and has since been released on a bond.

The sheriff said he was looking forward to clearing his name, telling local news channel WSBTV the arrest was a misunderstanding. "He is working with City of Atlanta to clear these charges," a statement on behalf of Mann said.

DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester said news of the sheriff's arrest damages the county's reputation. "It is embarrassing," Jester told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's certainly not a good headline for DeKalb County."

Jester said the sheriff has always been "professional" and "appropriate". "Now we have this, so I don't know," she said. "We'll see where this takes us."

Commissioner Greg Adams, a former DeKalb police officer, said he still has confidence in Mann. "The job that sheriff Jeff Mann has been doing has been superb," Adams said. "The entire sheriff's department, from the deputy sheriffs that patrol the street even to the jailers have a great deal of respect for his leadership."

Adams said he hopes the allegations against Mann are unfounded. "Being a police officer, I know first hand that things can be misconstrued," he said. "I hope there was a misinterpretation. I'm sorry it happened to him, but as it stands I trust his ability to lead the county forward as sheriff."

Mann, an attorney, was re-elected as Dekalb County's sheriff in 2016 after assuming the law enforcement seat in 2014 when Thomas Brown resigned to seek a Congressional seat.

Prior to Brown, every sheriff elected to a full term in DeKalb since 1965 has faced criminal charges, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This includes murder and corruption.