Ahmaud Arbery’s death renews efforts to dissolve the Glynn Co. Police Department

Georgia senator to re-introduce a bill that gives voters the power to decide

Ahmaud Arbery’s death renews efforts to dissolve the Glynn Co. Police Department

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - Ahmaud Arbery’s death has reignited a plan to change the police structure in Glynn County.

“It’s just a horrific event that has shocked the entire community,” said Georgia State Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick).

In an interview Wednesday with WTOC, the senator confirmed that he has renewed efforts to give Glynn County voters the absolute power to dissolve the county police department.

Should it change? That is the question voters could consider on the November ballot.

The issue is about changing the Glynn County police culture, Ligon said.

It’s something a Glynn County Grand Jury detailed in its September 2019 report after a review of the county police department where there were allegations of cover-ups, abuse of power and lack of accountability.

The report said the only way to change that culture was to give voters the power to decide.

Before Ahmaud Arbery’s death, Ligon sponsored legislation - Senate Bill 317 - to do just that. But he compromised, he said, with Senate Bill 504, which would make the referendum vote non-binding to dismantle the Glynn County Police Department. In that scenario, it would leave the final decision up to the Glynn County Commission.

But now, Ligon said the compromise bill doesn’t go far enough.

The Glynn County Police Department is under renewed scrutiny for how it handled the investigation into Arbery’s death.

“The decision should have been made early on to refer this case to the GBI and there certainly as we’ve seen enough evidence for an arrest immediately and that determination could have been made and should have been made by the Glynn County Police Department,” Ligon said. "And those are questions that go straight back to leadership. "

Here’s a look at what Glynn County voters could see on the November ballot, if the legislation passes.

{1} A binding resolution that allows voters to dissolve the Glynn County police department and transfer the policing powers to the sheriff who is an elected official.

OR

{2} A Non-binding resolution that recommends the same thing, but leaves the final decision up to the Glynn County Commission.

OR

{3} Or a vote to keep things the way they are.

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