Our Savannah City and Chatham County government leaders appear to be on the brink of dismantling the merged police force, while we face a rising and unacceptable crime rate.
We all agree, no one in any community deserves to be or feel unsafe.
Yes, there are legitimate cost, control and other issues overdue for attention and refinement. But, in our opinion, it is premature to dismantle the Metro police department before all reasonable efforts are undertaken to better work together.
The Savannah Area Chamber has offered to pay for a mediator to listen to and engage with both city and county leadership in finding solutions. The city recently agreed to mediation, while the county signaled mediation isn’t needed, because in their opinion the city needs to just negotiate and they have not. We respectfully disagree and feel an independent third party may see solutions, like when a judge helped with the local option sales tax (LOST) impasse.
It is disappointing our leaders cannot sit in a room and work out their differences on these overdue and important issues. Unexplainably, we have reached a place where each party shuttles draft documents back and forth without as much face-to-face effort as many would expect. Currently, both the city and county complain the other will not compromise nor bargain in good faith. We should be able to count on two fairly small and closely located groups of government leaders to work together, rather than signal divisiveness.
Why is all of this so important? Many reasons.
With the current crime wave, demerging will undoubtedly require some time from the current police command staff to divide and decouple assets and resources — all are unnecessary distraction at exactly the wrong time. Two departments require double paying for management rather than those officers on the streets. And, starting up a new department will likely further complicate filling the over 60-70 current officer vacancies.
The Savannah area is returning slowly from the recent recession and at a time in which almost all things locally are poised to propel the coastal region to be a clear economic powerhouse, second to only the metro-Atlanta region in Georgia.
We strongly urge our current Savannah City and Chatham County leadership to make a renewed effort towards cooperation and collaboration.
Let’s collectively recommit ourselves to working together and focusing on our common needs and successes rather than our differences. In that light, let’s encourage help from a non-binding third party mediator such as UGA’s Fanning Institute or another highly experienced and respected organization.
- Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce
- Visit Savannah
- Tourism Leadership Council
- 100 Black Men
- Savannah Downtown Business Association
- Savannah Area CEO Council
- Leadership Savannah
- Downtown Neighborhood Association
- Savannah Waterfront Association