New Call Signs Create Confusion for Merged Police Department

There have been many changes in the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department since the city-county police merger more than a year ago, from new uniforms to new patrol cars. Now city and county officers have joined forces in brand new precincts and there are some growing pains.

The way officers communicate over their police radios is changing. Their call signs are different, and that's causing a lot of confusion.

For the first time, officers are in the same offices, making the merger official. "This is the merger, this is the ultimate merger," said Capt. Claire McCluskey.

New coworkers' faces to get used to, new precincts, which means finding your way around a new neighborhood, and what might be the hardest of all. Having to answer to a new name.

"After you listen to a radio for a living--you know it's right in your ear--and you listen to a series of numbers like 519 for example, well my number changed to 100, so it's been quite a 24-hour period," Capt. McCluskey said.

It's been hectic for dispatchers making sure they say the right thing and get the right officer to the right location. Needless to say, scanner traffic has been a little slower. "Usually it's rapid fire, but you can hear a slight pause and then hear the dispatcher giving new signals," said Capt. McCluskey.

But these growing pains were all well anticipated. Despite the chaos and confusion, McCluskey says the public is being served as always. "We never missed a beat, we never missed a call, we never lost an officer that I know of."

Capt. McCluskey says the officers have all had a great attitudes, this is something they have been preparing for, and that once the first few days are over, everyone will get used to the changes.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro,