WTOC Investigates: Chatham County Police Department

WTOC Investigates: Chatham County Police Department

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Nearly two weeks ago, most people in Chatham County were prepping and bracing for Hurricane Irma. Meanwhile, Chatham County Commissioners still held their regularly scheduled meeting just days before on Friday, Sept. 8.

We've been going through the meeting minutes and finding that there was a lot that came out about the new Chatham County Police Department, such as specific plans and details that got buried under Irma.

Several proposals were made that day including how much this transition will cost and how the county is proposing to brand the new department. Right now, a nationwide search is underway for the new Chatham County police chief. This comes just two months after the Savannah City Council voted to terminate the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department merger in July. The county has since created a transition team to oversee plans to hire officers, buy new equipment, and brand the department.

During the Sept. 8 county commission meeting, staffer revealed what the department's brand could potentially look like come Feb. 1, from signage to badges, and even police cruisers.

The county will likely end up spending $3.6 million more for police services next year, projecting their first year of operations for 2018 to exceed $17.8 million, but taxpayers will eat some of that cost because the county raised the mileage rate earlier this year. However, county officials say a lot of the cost is up front and maintaining the department shouldn't be as costly, projecting it to be only $15 million by 2019. However, that's still $1 million more than what they are paying right now for a merged department.

The city of Savannah and county leaders are still working on splitting up resources, but the county estimates that they will need about 80 public safety radios, costing more than $4,400 apiece - for daily and emergency communications. The county wants to create three new positions to oversee the technical operations, including a network technician and two radio technicians.

County Commission approved all of these proposals during their Sept. 8th meeting. The firm conducting the search for the police chief is still accepting applications. The county is also looking for an assistant police chief.

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