Chatham County Outlines Potential Police Costs

Chatham County

No vote, but a lot of numbers thrown around at Tuesday’s informational session about creating a County Police Department. During which Commissioners had a lot of questions, and comments about how much a County Police Department could cost.

The audience at this session was filled with local business leaders, and law enforcement from both the Chatham County Sheriff’s and the SCMPD, all interested in what numbers would come out.

Chatham County Commissioners outline costs of county police department
Chatham County Commissioners outline costs of county police department

Here’s what was presented Tuesday:

The new department would start on July 1, 2016.

It would begin with 95 officers, eventually rising to 130, or 1.1 officers for every 1000 residents.

The total cost for the first year including setting up the department would be $18.3 million in 2016, $11.3 million in 2017. The average cost for the county to stay with the merged police department would be about $15 million a year.

Those numbers sparked more debate amoung Commissioners and some pointed comments toward the City.

“I think it will be a win win in the long run once all the passion and everything smokes out the window. I think its going to be the best for everyone involved,” said Commissioner Dean Kicklighter.

“I hope after the heat of the moment, even if we do go our different ways there’s going to be no retribution,” said Commissioner Tony Center everyone is going to recognize this is the way it is and we will do everything we can to move forward.”

The entire discussion could be moot.

Commission Chairman Al Scott says he has the ability to veto the Commission’s vote from Friday, and reopen negotiations all over again.

“Whether we are tied or not its one population, and what’s good for one has to be good for all,” explained Scott during Tuesday’s meeting. “Anything short of that I think all of you are failures in this.”

“They are elected by 12 and a half percent of the population,” explained Scott after the meeting. “I am elected by 100% of the population. All municipalities, unincorporated areas, even the city of Savannah.whats bets for the entire community”

Just to complicate things even more.. i’ve learned that there could be a legal challenge if Chairman Scott does try to veto the Commission’s decision.

The question would be – legally, does he have the power?

That would come into question if Commissioners decided to fight it in court.

Chairman Scott could make his decision as early as Wednesday morning.

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