Growing rift between Savannah, Chatham Co. over police merger - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Growing rift between City of Savannah, Chatham Co. over police merger


WTOC is continuing to follow a growing rift between the City of Savannah and Chatham County over the 11-year-old police merger.

A meeting between the city and county manager took place Tuesday.

Many expected this to be a negotiation, but new County Manager Lee Smith said it was anything but that. He said it was a "getting to know you" session between the new county manager and the City Manager Stephanie Cutter.

Smith made his way to the city manager's office shortly after 11:00 a.m. Afterward, he said it was simply the first of planned monthly meetings between the two.

They talked about economic development, capitol improvements and management styles.

Police mergers did not come up, but he said they may address those concerns at a later time. However, County Chairman Al Scott did said he sent a letter to Mayor Edna Jackson expressing the county commission's desire to renegotiate the Savannah-Chatham metro police merger agreement and give the county more input in the hiring process for a new chief.

As we reported Monday, if that is not possible the county would reserve its right to opt out of the merger.

Scott said it wasn't too late to make changes even in the selection of a new chief.

"Oh no this is the right time. We have a list of potential candidates. We haven't decided on any of them. So we have to make the changes before a decision is made. We've always thought the merger agreement was flawed from the day it was adopted so that's not anything new. Everyone has just been dragging their feet in renegotiating in and we are at a point we are about to bring in a new chief and it's a good time to renegotiate the contract," he said.

City officials said the city is also willing to renegotiate. A policing policy meeting is being scheduled for the end of the month.

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