County and City Hope to Update Police Merger Agreement - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

County and City Hope to Update Police Merger Agreement

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The almost nine year old merger of the Savannah Police Dept. with the Chatham County Police Dept. is again coming under some pretty intense scrutiny by the county and the city. The almost nine year old merger of the Savannah Police Dept. with the Chatham County Police Dept. is again coming under some pretty intense scrutiny by the county and the city.
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The almost nine year old merger of the Savannah Police Dept. with the Chatham County Police Dept. is again coming under  intense scrutiny by the county and the city.

The idea of revisiting the merger was brought up earlier this week at a public policy committee meeting.

This agreement went into effect back on January 1st, 2005 and since then, neither the city or the county has really done any tweaking of the merger. Both sides say the time is now.

County Commission Chairman Al Scott tells WTOC it is long overdue that the two sides revisit the agreement. Scott says the costs are rising and he believes they should be re-allocated based on what he describes as "services provided."

"The agreement is not a county wide merger," explained Scott. "It's really a merger between law enforcement in the unincorporated area of the county and the city of Savannah. So when you look at what services are provided to the unincorporated area, when you look at the time allocation for the unincorporated area and all that, has to be looked at and cost has to be allocated accordingly," said Scott.  

The city tells me the terms of the agreement divide some of the costs based on population and some of the cost based on number of patrolling units in the areas. According to the city, the rising costs Scott is referring to is clearly laid out in the agreement.

The city says it agrees that it should be responsible for more of the costs in areas like criminal investigations. However, when it comes to crime rates, the city says you still have to pay for officers patrolling in low crime rate areas as well and therefore this shouldn't be a factor.

"We actually agree that some of the cost centers that the city should shoulder a higher burden and we're willing to sit down and renegotiate that," said city PIO Bret Bell. "But so far when we've sat down with the county, their proposal which is largerly based on crime numbers we feel like is patently unfair."

The city says they are aware of the need to revisit the potential cost changes based on population because of a new census that came out in 2010.

The next step in all of this is for both the city and the county to appoint people to meet and discuss new terms to the agreement. There is no word yet on when that will happen.

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