City, county leaders hear unified law enforcement study results - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

City, county leaders hear unified law enforcement study results

August 17, 2005

Albany-- The study, by UGA's Carl Vinson Institute, showed consolidating the city and county police, and eliminating some of the sheriff's investigative duties would save money over time.

But, just how much money?

The latest study shows taxpayers will save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by merging the city and county police forces and by getting rid of some of the sheriff's office duties, like investigations, that aren't typically performed by sheriff deputies around the state.

"They're might be some economies of scale if those people who perform those functions were merged into a consolidated, larger investigative unit," said John O'Looney of the Carl Vinson Institute. "Then they could do a better job at looking at crime and be more intelligent about addressing crime in a regional manner."

O'Looney told county and city commissioners the consolidation would cost about $224,000 the first year for new uniforms, car decals, and moving the county police force to APD's new office downtown.

But he says over time they would save money by eliminating duplicated duties and not keeping up with two buildings. "We figure it will more than pay for itself over the next ten years."

County Police Chief Don Cheek and APD Chief Bob Boren say they still have a lot of unanswered questions. "The authority it reports to, which government the city or county, what would you do with the municipal court, what would you do with the benefit packages, pension. All those things need to be looked at," said Boren.

The Sheriff's Office is controlled by the state and can't be consolidated. Sheriff Jamil Saba says only his investigators are up for debate since that duty isn't constitutionally protected.

But he argued today that those officers perform other duties too. "We do a majority of different type jobs. That's why it's hard to pinpoint exactly what we do."

 His opposition proves, that like pervious attempts, the road to consolidation will be bumpy. This study didn't include how much money would be saved or lost by getting the officers onto the same pay scales and retirement programs.

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