Macon police Precinct 1 officers sworn in as Bibb deputies

lfabian@macon.comNovember 6, 2013 

Macon Precinct 1 police officers sworn in as Bibb deputies in merger step

When the clock strikes midnight New Year’s Eve, law enforcement officers in Bibb County will duck into offices, restrooms and maybe even a phone booth.

It might not be as dramatic as a scene from Superman, but when the new year rolls in, Bibb deputies will take off their khaki clothes and Macon police will shed their dark blue uniforms in favor of gray shirts and black pants with a gray stripe.

“At midnight, you can take your PD badge off and put it in your pocket and put your sheriff’s office badge on and carry on forward,” Sheriff David Davis told Macon police Precinct 1 officers in the first mass swearing-in ceremony before consolidation.

Wednesday morning, three dozen officers were the latest to raise their right hands and take the oath. Macon’s traffic officers, K-9 units, crime lab technicians and bomb squad were deputized in recent weeks.

The SWAT Team, criminal investigation division and other precincts will take the oath in coming weeks.

“I want to welcome you to our family at the sheriff’s office,” Davis said. “On Jan. 1, you’ll be ready to go. So, whenever the first call comes in, you’ll be able to answer it and be able to serve and protect the citizens.”

Davis thanked the officers for their service to Macon and what they will be doing for the sheriff’s office in about seven weeks.

The ceremony ensures the officers will have jurisdiction in the first cases of the new year.

“This is to make sure our legal ducks are in a row,” said Cara Donlon-Cotton, director of strategic management for the sheriff’s office.

Most assignments were decided in August and September after officers were given the opportunity to make their top three choices.

Only a handful of officers have yet to be assigned, Donlon-Cotton said.

Command staff from both departments plotted the divisions.

“We had every name on a magnetic board,” Davis said. “It looked like the NFL draft.”

Giving officers input in their position will help ease the transition and likely enhance their enthusiasm and performance, Donlon-Cotton said.

Two Precinct 1 officers have worked for the sheriff’s office before -- Lee “Cody” McIlrath and Matthew Wie-schorster.

“Ah, we knew we’d get you back,” Davis told McIlrath as he handed over his badge.

Other police officers wanted to work for the sheriff’s office, Davis said, but did not apply due to the requirement that new deputies start at the jail.

Veteran officers on both departments have “grown up in law enforcement and worked together,” Davis said, which is making for a smooth merger.

“We’ve thought this thing through from the very beginning of this year,” he said.

Donlon-Cotton said plans are to keep all the current government-owned precincts, substations and offices, but evaluate leased spaces.

The new department will be nearly 760 strong with about 600 sworn officers, according to a release.

“We’re going to be a powerhouse of an agency,” Donlon-Cotton said.

Unlike other facets of the consolidated government, the sheriff’s office will not be adding Macon to its name.

It will still be known as the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re building a great team here,” Davis told his future deputies. “Every one of you is part of that team and we look forward to serving with you. This is a great day.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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