Proposed Police Merger in Georgia Urged into Mediation
A merger between the police departments of two Georgia towns has been in limbo ever since the county ordered the merger dissolved in 2013 after it had been in place for more than a decade. The town councils have sent a letter to the county commissioner’s office requesting that the matter be referred to formal mediation in order to resolve the issues at hand.
The Savannah and Chatham police departments merged in 2003 and operated as one since that time. In 2013, the county commission dissolved the merger over a dispute concerning budgets and authority, especially in unincorporated areas of the county that fall under the merged police department’s authority but have no say in how it is run or funded. Many have described the decision as “rash” and a “fit of pique.” The town council protested the decision, and has now sent a formal request that the county enter into mediation over the matter. The council has given the county ten days to respond to the request.
The dissolution order does not take formal effect until 2016, so for the moment the police are operating as usual. The town council is determined to avoid the dissolution taking place, but has stopped short of threatening litigation, though that may be a next step if the county refuses to engage in mediation or if mediation fails to produce a compromise.
The Police Benevolent Association (PBA) has decried the decision, stating that a demerger will result in chaos, a loss of experienced leadership, and a rise in crime.