Sheriff sues County - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff sues County

June 30, 2003

Albany - The Dougherty County Sheriff's Department is suing the county. On Monday, county commissioners voted to abolish six sheriff's department jobs, including four investigators.

Commissioners voted four to two to cut the sheriff's department jobs. They say it will save the county $300,000 a year. But the sheriff says six top-notch employees are getting the axe, and he doesn't plan to sit by and watch. So he's hiring a top-gun lawyer from Savannah to sue the commission.

In an 11th hour decision on the budget, commissioners voted to eliminate the sheriff's department patrol unit, the criminal investigators, and the crime scene technician. "This is clearly a duplication of services," said Commissioner Lamar Hudgins. "City, County, and special tax district taxpayers are paying double for these investigative services."

Under Georgia law, it's illegal to tax people for a duplication of services. But, Sheriff Jamil Saba says investigators perform duties other Albany agencies don't. In fact, the department has the only crime scene technician in the county. "I'm very disappointed in the commissioners who don't care about six people who have served Dougherty County for a combined 125 years," aid Saba.

Six people, including Lt. Craig Dodd, will lose their jobs. "Apparently, the county plans to work without a crime scene technician. I guess Commissioners don't think a crime tech is important to the safety of our community," said Lt. Dodd.

Moments after the commission's decision, Sheriff Saba announced his plans to sue the county. "I'm not going to just sit back and let this happen. We're going to fight them until the end." The Sheriff is hiring a lawyer from Savannah who's successfully fought this same battle in other Georgia counties. "It's going to cost the taxpayers more money because this mess has ended up in court," said Saba.

And, the lawsuit is no big surprise to the commission. "I had heard that the Sheriff might sue. I can respect his decision," said Commission Chairman Jaff Sinyard.

Now, the jobs of six sheriff's employees will hang in the balance a little longer - as the decision is moved to the hands of the court. The six employees have until August 1st to vacate their jobs.

Posted at 5:30PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com