Savannah-Chatham Police Merger Update

It's the hottest topic in law enforcement: merging Savannah and Chatham County Police Departments. The Chatham County Commission has studied, discussed and voted on the idea. Savannah City Council never gave a final decision, and their deadline was Monday. WTOC spoke with city and county leaders, who say just because the March 31 deadline has come and gone, that doesn't mean the possibility of merging is dead.

"We're hoping to do a briefing at city precouncil on Thursday," Chris Morrill, assistant city manager, said. "Just to let them know where we are, what the major issues are, and then have full workshops within the next few weeks."

"If something positive comes out the day after tomorrow, it's not a dead deal," added county manager Russ Abolt.

This is something that the Chatham County Commission has been actively fighting for. But for Savannah's city aldermen, it's been a much tougher sell.

"They've been hesitant to make a decision until they know all the details," said Morrill. "We've learned when you're entering into an agreement like this, you work everything out up front."

Abolt says both sides have been actively discussing the proposal.

"We're now working in the 12th iteration of this governmental agreement," he told us.

But by Thursday, Chatham County commissioners want to know which direction city council's decision is heading.

"If it goes on after that, we just can't afford to let uncertainty cloud the issue," Abolt said.

Savannah's assistant city manager says they didn't mean to go past the March 31 deadline. However, there was so much debate between city and county officials on how SPLOST--the special purpose local option sales tax--would be spent, that it overshadowed the aldermen's decisions on the police merger.

Reported by: Holly Bristow,