Chatham Co. Commission meets to discuss final plans for new county police department

Chatham Co. Commission meets to discuss final plans for new county police department

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Chatham County Board of Commissioners met for the first time this year on Thursday, bringing with them a key issue from last year.

The county is expected to be completely separated from the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department by Feb. 1.

In just under three weeks, SCMPD will officially be no more, and the era of the Chatham County Police Department will start. The big question is: are they ready?

"Yeah, we'll be ready to go," said Chatham County Chairman, Al Scott. "We won't be fully staffed, but we should be fully staffed sometime shortly after Feb. 1 and we'll go from there."

Right now, county officials are finalizing intergovernmental agreements with the other municipalities so they can help patrol unincorporated parts of Chatham County.

"You're going to see the Eastside fully covered. The Westside, you'll see us out there, but you'll see a mix of Metro because it's truly a partnership. On the Eastside, if we have a major accident, we'll be dependent on Thunderbolt just like Thunderbolt will be dependent on us," said Lee Smith, County Manager.

In other words, if something were to happen in an unincorporated area right outside of Garden City, then Garden City Police would be the closest municipality and could respond.

But according to the municipalities that we spoke to Friday including Garden City and Port Wentworth, nothing is set in stone in terms of what role they will play with the new Chatham County Police Department.

The county plans to rely on the extra help for at least three to four months but it's still unclear how many of these municipalities will actually agree to the intergovernmental agreement. But county officials are remaining pretty optimistic just three weeks out from their February first deadline.

"So, we think if we up the anty on marketing and make sure we're competitive, we're going to get the folks we need, so we're very confident about that," Smith said. "I've met with the city manager this week and our transition teams, and huge cooperation as far as the transfer over mobile data terminals and vehicles and radios. It's going very well."

One recent problem they've run into is that the company hired to add the new decals to the CCPD wasn't working out. They were the lowest bidder, so they got the job initially, but county officials say they didn't do a good job.

"The problem was some of the decals weren't going on properly. They didn't have trained personnel to install it, and in one case, we ended up with some slight damage to vehicles and whathaveyou," Scott said.

The county manager says they still have a lot to do before Feb. 1, but they're confident that everything will come together.

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