Bibb sheriff’s office updates merger with police

pramati@macon.comApril 16, 2013 

Bibb County sheriff’s officials presented an outline to county commissioners Tuesday of how the office will look once it merges with the Macon Police Department come January.

Cara Cotton, the sheriff’s office director of strategic management, showed commissioners a new organizational flow chart, a map of new districts and new procedures for the merged office.

Cotton said the county will still be divided into four main districts, each commanded by a major, but that downtown Macon would be its own separate, fifth district that will be supervised by a captain.

Cotton noted that both the sheriff’s office and the police department will be adjusting their schedules and procedures when they merge. For example, deputies currently work eight-hour, rotating shifts, while police officers work 12-hour, permanent shifts. The new plan calls for all law enforcement officers to work eight-hour, permanent shifts. Deputies and officers currently are submitting their preferences in shift times and patrol areas.

Cotton said officers and deputies chose new uniforms that will include a gray shirt and black pants. Since both groups rejected the first choice for hats, officials are now looking into other options.

Deputies also will wear a new patch that’s similar to the current police patches. They contain the sheriff’s star and the words “Sheriff Bibb County” on them, Cotton said.

Sheriff David Davis already has approved and begun implementing some elements of the departments’ merger:

• Central records will be consolidated at the current Bibb County office in the Bass Building on Second Street. The division will be run by Director of Management Services Erica Jackson of the police department.

• The consolidated crime lab/crime scene unit will be run by sheriff’s Capt. Dennis Hagerman and will use both crime scene labs.

• The consolidated training division will be based at the police training academy on Jackson Street, with the other training ranges used as satellite locations. No director or assistant director has been named.

• The SWAT team will use current police SWAT standards, and members of both SWAT teams will undergo requalification testing in December, after which a new commander will be named.

• Police Lt. Andra Grinstead will serve as director of the consolidated E-911/radio room.

• The consolidated Criminal Investigations Division will be broken into three units: Persons Crimes (which includes violent crimes, narcotics/vice, crimes against children and the gang unit); Property Crimes (which includes district investigations and a copper/theft unit); and Crime Scene/Lab.

• Crime prevention and youth intervention from both entities will merge and be renamed the Sheriff’s Outreach Section, which includes Youth Education Services, Neighborhood Outreach Deputies, Crime Prevention and Special Projects.

• Additionally, Internal Affairs will be renamed the Office of Professional Standards and will be broken into two divisions -- Background Investigations, which will screen all potential employees, and Internal Affairs. The department is currently screening candidates for the seven or eight anticipated investigators in the new department.

County Commissioner Lonzy Edwards expressed concerns about hiring all current officers and deputies for the consolidated agency, noting that some police officers have lost their jobs and been charged with crimes.

Davis said it would be logistically impossible, as well as against the consolidation bill, to make everyone reapply for the new jobs.

However, he said any deputy who was facing discipline after Jan. 1 would have his or her previous record taken into account if disciplinary action is taken.

“That’s where a strong (Internal Affairs) comes in,” Davis said. “If someone shows improper behavior, we’re going to deal with it. ... We’re changing our image -- new uniforms, new cars, new look. If someone is doing wrong ... I’m not going to put up with it. We’re going to have a different mindset.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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