In a long-anticipated move, Savannah City Council today voted unanimously in a special called meeting to end the more than a decade old merger of the city and county police.
The merger will officially dissolve Feb. 1, 2018. It means that unincorporated Chatham County will have to provide and pay for its own police services, whether through a new agency or some enhanced function of the Chatham County Sheriff's Dept.
Alderman Miller said, "The big promise all of us on this Council made was to do something about crime.... the major part of that is having a well-functioning police department."
Alderman Bill Durrence said, "At this point it just doesn't seem like we have any choice' but to vote to end the police merger, citing what he called the "non-responsiveness of County Commission" in numerous meetings on the topic over the last few years.
Durrence added that the challenge of having a "two-tiered police system" in line with what the Chatham County Commission seemed to be calling for proved too much to overcome.
The prime dispute in the merger discussion has been funding: Some County Commissioners say that since the vast bulk of crime is in City limits, County residents are essentially subsidizing crime fighting in less-safe areas.