SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A full page advertisement in a local Savannah newspaper Tuesday criticized the potential demerger of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department and listed the phone numbers and emails of all county commissioners and city council members.
"We continue to believe that a unified approach to public safety through the merged Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department best serves the citizens of the City of Savannah and the unincorporated Chatham County," the ad reads.
The ad was taken out by the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, 100 Black Men of Savannah, the Savannah Downtown Business Association and the Savannah Tourism Leadership Council.
"I don't think anything is too late until the voters have spoken. The fact of the matter is, we're fast approaching that deadline, and both the City and the County are making financial decisions and commitments to stand up their own departments," said President and CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council, Michael Owens.
The authors of the ad say they worked for months to keep communications open between City and County leaders, and felt significant progress was made on working through issues. Still, both Savannah and Chatham County are moving toward separate departments.
Bill Hubbard, President and CEO of the Savannah Area Chamber said, "The City's in a very legitimate place saying, hey, you know, we're preparing our budget, we've got to know if you're our partner. And the County is in a very legitimate place saying, we think we've got to have some control, not just buying a service. The problem is, they just have not spent enough time together trying to resolve it."
Leaders from the City and County seem steadfast on raising independent departments, sticking with their respective positions that the other side didn't meet halfway.
"We did exactly what the contract that we had with the County, we did exactly what that contract said. We took it step by step. We have not had a reciprocal response as far as a vote by the County as, yes we're going to be in it, or no we're not going to be in it," said Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach.
Chatham County Manager Lee Smith said, "We've spent substantial dollars, and used substantial personnel time to move this forward. So I do believe there's really no turning back at this point."