SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - In exactly three months, the safety and protection of unincorporated Chatham County will shift from the merged Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department to the demerged Chatham County Police Department.
Last summer, the city and county decided to dissolve the 14-year-old merger, citing differences over what each side felt was a fair and equitable price to pay.
That was four months ago, and with the clock ticking, the county is working and spending at a feverish pace trying to get a standalone police department up and running to cover the unincorporated county.
Independence always comes with a price, but in this situation, it's a very heavy price. One in which the taxpayer is left footing the bill.
A three-month-long investigation by WTOC's David Klugh discovered that the county could have easily accomplished its goal of having its own force while spending millions less each year than they're planning to right now.
After battling with the City of Savannah, County Commission Chairman Al Scott - with little justification - is summarily dismissing what nearly every other county in our state does: have the county sheriff lead the county police force.
Sheriff John Wilcher has said he could do this, and at a cost that's more than $8 million less than what the county is targeted to spend just this year.
Consider this: The County Commission voted to demerge because they thought they were paying too much to the city. It just doesn't add up that commissioners are blindly following Chairman Scott into this financial abyss, and refusing to consider, or even answer to taxpayers, why they're wasting their money and won't let the sheriff and his current infrastructure lead the department.
A police force's primary mission is to protect and serve, but in the case of Chatham County, it appears their force is hellbent on robbing you of your hard-earned tax dollars.