County frustrations grow over SCMPD - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

County frustrations grow over SCMPD

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Chatham County is putting the heat on the City of Savannah when it comes to Savannah- Chatham metro police.

WTOC was told these frustrations have been building since last fall, when the former chief Willie Lovett retired abruptly.

County commissioners said they feel the county has not been kept in the loop, or given proper authority, even though they pay the city for police services as part of their merger agreement from 2003.

A few weeks ago, county Chairman Al Scott was not afraid to express his concerns with how the city was handling the police department situation and the county's lack of involvement.

He wanted to change that. Other county commissioners Monday said they also were not pleased with the search for a new police chief and felt the county needed to be more involved in that process as well. They also said they needed more information as the seriousness of the police investigation became more evident. An indictment of Lovett developed a few weeks ago.

Scott spoke candidly with WTOC two weeks ago about his concerns about the search for a new police chief.

"It's a city lead process and we are in the process now of renegotiating  the contract we have with them...the intergovernmenetal agreement for police services in the unincorporated area," he said. "One of the things we are in the process of talking about is having more input in the selection process and in the absence of that the county would have to look at an alternative for policing the unincorporated area."

Another big part of the frustration equation, between the county and the city, has been the fact meetings like the one set to take place Tuesday have been cancelled already at least twice.

Tuesday's meeting between the city manager and the county manager and possibly the mayor and county chairman, could hold more weight than some are leading us to believe.

The county does have a few options. They could continue to push for the city to renegotiate the merger agreement. They also could opt-out and have Chatham County Sheriff's Office patrol unincorporated Chatham County, like most counties in the country do, and they could re-form the Chatham County Police Department in that time. 

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