Sprague Stays on Past Retire Date

Chief Tom Sprague
Chief Tom Sprague

Chief Tom Sprague of the Chatham County Police Department is still fighting crime every day, even though he was supposed to retire on June 30. Now, at the end of July, he is still working for a few reasons; one of these being that he wants to assist in finding a new chief.

Chatham County manager Russ Abolt said the county is still working on it. "Right now, I would expect that sometime during the month of August I'll be interviewing candidates and announcing finalists."

The second reason Chief Sprague is still sticking around is the much-talked-of police merger. "If a merger was still underway, I planned to stay over," Sprague said.

But the police merger may pose a problem for the new chief. There is no guarantee that person would remain chief if the city and county merge. Such a precarious situation does not promise much job stability. This can be a challenge to explain to candidates.

"Sure, obviously if a person is not familiar with it, one has to ask themself if they would choose to cast their lot with something that's tentative," Abolt commented.

But Chief Sprague spoke from experience, saying, "A merger is not necessarily bad for someone coming into this position."

Abolt says they still have a lot of interest and he explains the situation to all candidates. "I will make sure in the contract for the new candidate of chief of police there will be ample consideration for some type of severance package if in effect the merger would take place and this person was not selected as chief of a combined department."

Chief Sprague said that he will not step down and appoint someone as an interim chief because it causes damage to the department. And as for the merger, the city and county continue to negotiate.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com