County Commission Approves Police Merger - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/26/03

County Commission Approves Police Merger

Chatham County commissioners today voted join forces with the City of Savannah and combine the two police departments. After lengthy discussions, the vote was seven to one, minus chairman Billy Hair. Now the proposal goes to the City of Savannah.

The longest-serving police chief in America, and current county commissioner, David Gellatly, summed up the reaction of many people at the Chatham County Commission meeting after the long-anticipated and controversial police merger passed.  "It's been discussed and cussed by every group in the community," he said. "And I think it's well thought out and well planned. It's time to get in gear and get it going."

That is just what Savannah city manager Michael Brown plans on doing, because now it is city council's turn to vote. "The majority that we got today, which is a good solid vote, sends a good message to city council," he said.

But not everyone agrees. Commissioner Dean Kicklighter voted against the plan. "In the way this passed today, all the power goes to the mayor and to the city, and I can't imagine the constituents being happy with the way this passed today," he told us.

Commissioner Kicklighter worries that when the current administration is gone, the new administration will take a different attitude about a combined department.

The city manager isn't worried about that. "There's always that chance, but that is why there is a 48-page agreement as to how communication will work," said Brown.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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