The Savannah and Chatham County Police Departments might merge one day. In the meantime, Chatham County needs a new chief. The department has narrowed the field to five finalists for the job. The current chief, Tom Sprague, is retiring at the end of the month.
"It's important to realize when we leave the department leaderless, it begins to deteriorate," said county manager Russ Abolt.
So despite talks of a merger, the county went ahead with its search and candidates are well aware of an uncertain future. Finalist Maj. Irene Pennington said, "You always want to hope you can maintain your own identity, but you have to realize that change is inevitable and you have to be flexible enough with it."
To make sure the person who is selected chief is taken care of, the county has a plan in place. "If the merger comes through, and I hope it does, there is a buyout or severance possibilities," explained Abolt.
Finding a candidate for what could be a short-term Chatham County chief of police wasn't a waste of money for the county, not only because of officials' strong feelings about having a true leader, but also because of the low cost associated with the search. According to Abolt, "It is safe to say in the hundreds, it was insignificant."
We'll let you know when the county makes a final decision, likely by the end of the month.