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County votes to split up police merger; City Manager issues statement
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Earlier today the Chatham County Commission voted to exercise its option to terminate the decade-old merger of city and county police forces.

Negotiations had been stalled for several months over the City's insistence on a certain funding formula and the County's insistence that it have more control over the Chief's position.

City Manager Stephanie Cutter today issued the following statement:

“I understand the Chatham County Board of Commissioners voted today to begin the process of terminating the SCMPD intergovernmental agreement. While I respect the will of our elected representatives, I believe strongly that dissolving the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department will hurt public safety in our community.

“I am encouraged that Chairman Scott desires to continue negotiations on a new agreement. The City and County agree on far more provisions for management, structure and cost share of police services than we disagree. I am confident that by sitting down and engaging in open and honest dialogue, we will be able to create a new agreement that is fair for all residents in Chatham County.

“The advancements gained over the nine years of SCMPD’s existence are significant. Shared investigative resources, better intelligence, reduction of jurisdictional confusion and the creation of patrol beats that reflect neighborhood and geographic realities are just some of the benefits of a combined police department.

“While we must do more to target criminal behavior, it is without question that SCMPD has increased public safety in our community. Since Metro’s creation, Part I crime has decreased nearly 30 percent across the jurisdiction, including a 50 percent drop in Unincorporated Chatham County during a time when its population increased 20 percent.

“I look forward to working with County leadership over the coming weeks on this most important priority for residents in our shared community.”