Police/Sheriff Consolidation: Safe or not? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Police/Sheriff Consolidation: Safe or not?

September 30, 2002

Albany - Dougherty County commissioners heard the pros and cons of consolidating the sheriff and county police. The main concern - will your safety be put in jeopardy?

Sheriff Jamil Saba promises you'll see the same police protection for less money, if the county police and sheriff's department consolidate.

But a report from the County Administrator raised questions the Sheriff left unanswered in his request to the commission two weeks ago. Questions about how many jobs would be lost and how much money would actually be saved.

Saba says the consolidation will save a million dollars a year. "'With the retirement of Chief Kicklighter, this is the perfect time to consolidate. We will provide the same great service to residents," said Saba.

Crowdis says 19 jobs would be lost, but more police responsibility would be added. He asked the Sheriff how could the new department handle the 9,000 emergency calls that are received each year when 5 fewer dispatchers will be employed.

Assistant Police Chief Jeremy French worries that the safety of those currently served by the DCP would be jeopardized. "I don't see how they can deliver the same safety protection. The consolidation plan cuts the number of miles on police cars, that means fewer patrols and less police presence," said French.

Another concern is double taxation. The DCP is funded in the Special Tax District because it provides no services to the city taxpayers. But, the sheriff's department falls under the general fund because its services, like operating the court and jail, benefit both city and county taxpayers.

If the sheriff's department takes on investigations and patrol, city taxpayers will be paying for services they already receive from the Albany Police Department.

County commissioners may hire an outside agency to evaluate the service of the DCP and sheriff's department and provide a unbiased report.

Posted by 5:12 PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com

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