CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - It appears the new Chatham County Police Department will be so far behind on its recruitment efforts by the time the demerger is finalized in two weeks that it will not be able to handle even basic patrols in the unincorporated areas of the county.
In a letter sent to the City of Savannah late last week, County Manager Lee Smith, unable to get agreements from other smaller police departments to help patrol the entire west side of the county, has turned back to Savannah Police for help.
In the letter - obtained exclusively by WTOC - Chatham County requests the City of Savannah continue providing police services as if the Metro merger never went away until the county can recruit enough officers to finally take over.
The letter asked that those services start on the demerger date of Feb. 1 and remain in effect until the Chatham County Police Department is sufficiently staffed.
The City of Savannah said it is happy to help out. But will do so at a cost yet to be negotiated.
It has become clear that the county chairman's hope of the fast and easy creation of a self-standing police force hasn't quite turned out as planned.
CCPD has only been able to recruit a third of the officers it needs for an effective agency. And those 44 officers now sworn in will only be able to cover the needs of the island communities. Someone else will have to cover the rest of the county for them.
"You're going to see the east side fully covered. The west side you'll see us out there, but you'll see a mix of Metro because it's truly a partnership. On the east side if we have a major accident, we'll be dependent on Thunderbolt and just like Thunderbolt will be dependent on us," Chatham County Manager Lee Smith said.
The effort to complete recruiting in the county is expected to take another year.
You can read the full letter written by the county below: