One of the most important steps in merging the Savannah and Chatham County Police Departments has just taken place. Hundreds of city and county police officers gathered at the Savannah Civic Center this afternoon to take their new oath of office. City and county leaders swore in the officers, giving them the authority to patrol anywhere in Chatham County and officially uniting both forces.
"It gives all officers full jurisdictional authority that they will need to function in a metropolitan police department," said Chief Dan Flynn. "That makes them very interchangeable."
Now that many officers have been sworn in, you may start seeing them working together. Many officers are saying that they're already noticing differences between the way things used to be and how they are now. They have always exchanged information, but now it's becoming easier to share, and it's only going to get better.
Even though the radio system is still being finished, officers are now empowered to respond to calls in areas where they previously might not even have known a problem existed because the call came over the other agency's frequency. "You interact on a more daily basis now," said Capt. Bob Merriman. "There's a common depository for all intelligence information."
While county officers always had jurisdiction over both areas, now they can enforce city ordinances. As this first step breaks down the boundaries, officers look forward to breaking down crime as coworkers. "I look forward to being able to communicate by email as well as just pushing the last four digits of the phone extension," said Capt. Claire McCluskey. The radio and communications centers are among the first things they're working on.
All of the officers are expected to be sworn in by the end of the week.