Council discusses combining law enforcement
By Stephanie Johns
Members of the Madison City Council talked about the pros and cons of joining the city’s police force with the county’s sheriff’s office during their mid-December work session.
Councilman Michael Naples said while attending a recent conference, he had heard about how the City of Hinesville had done just that.
“That would be an immediate savings,” he said. “Is that even feasible for us?”
He explained that Hinesville is the only municipality in its county and that the county has a single commissioner.
“I’m not here advocating,” he said, noting that only the positive aspects of consolidation were shared at the conference. “I just want to hear the other side.”
Councilman Joe DiLetto said it would not be feasible.
“I was in Athens-Clarke County when consolidation occurred,” he said. “It cost about $120,000 more to operate the two police departments (when consolidation occurred).”
The reason behind that increase: the city paid its officers more than the county paid its deputies. When the two consolidated, the deputies’ salaries were brought up to the same level as the officers’ salaries, he said.
“It wasn’t a great thing,” he said. “We’ve got a good city department and a good county department. Leave it where it is.”
Councilman Fred Perriman agreed.
“We’re really fortunate they can collaborate with each other,” he said.
City Manager David Nunn said that years ago the city asked the county about consolidating animal control services. After crunching some numbers they determined that it would cost the city more and they would receive less service.
Nunn added that he knew of another hybrid consolidation in which a community cross trained its fire and police departments.
“They’re pulling back from that now,” he said.
Printed in the December 27, 2012 edition