Chatham Co. commissioner says he was left ‘in the dark’ over police chief hire

Published: Nov. 6, 2017 at 6:17 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 7, 2017 at 4:09 PM EST
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Commissioner Dean Kicklighter says the chairman did not inform him of a new police chief hire....
Commissioner Dean Kicklighter says the chairman did not inform him of a new police chief hire. (Source: Chatham County)

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - In advance of Chatham County's announcement that they had hired a police chief for its brand new Chatham County PD, the Michigan department let the cat out of the bag.

The more we hear from the Chatham County Commission, the more we are convinced the new Chatham County Police Department was created in the dark - away from the view and the criticism of voters - and perhaps more shockingly, from the rest of the County Commission.

Commissioner Dean Kicklighter was the only elected board member who spoke to me about the Chairman's decision to build this force from scratch... and he admits, he knew nothing until the actual vote. He says the choice of this new police chief was also a secret process he says. His Facebook page said much more than that Monday afternoon.

After receiving several calls for a response to the new chief, Kicklighter wrote, 'Once again something major happened in the county government and I had no idea anything took place until I heard from the media.' It went on to say, 'I've never worked with someone that keeps all other county leaders in the dark like this chairman does!'

Still, Al Scott's choice to head this new department appears to be a very qualified one. Kalamazoo Chief, Jeff Hadley was with his current department for nine years, and Ft Wayne, Indiana for another 14 years. Hadley will be in place soon and ready to finish the task of building his command structure and a complete working police department...maybe.

Our investigation of the process a Georgia County must go through to create its own police department is a bit more complicated than just posting job listings. In this state, according to Georgia Code Title 36-8, 'If the agency will be a county police department, the agency must be approved by the voters... otherwise a county police force shall not be created.'

An exception could be made if the county considers the old CCPD before the merger never dissolved, because it maintained a Marine Patrol and Counter Narcotics Team. The chairman's lack of transparency to his own county commission is another story.

In the meantime, it would take some force to stop this ball from rolling. Precincts have been established, cars have been re-striped, uniforms and badges have been created and the hiring effort is now in hyper-drive, including what appears to have been an excellent choice for chief.

"Go on to new challenges, and a new place, Savannah. I'm very thankful for their confidence in me, and we're excited to get down there and do good work down there," Chief Hadley said.

Hadley's start date is Dec. 4.

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