The problems with consolidated counties

This is one. I think the legislature needs to give some special consideration to consolidated city-county governments being able to have more control over police and sheriff functions. Augusta has all sorts of problems because its consolidated government has little power against the sheriff.

12 comments

  1. curt flood says:

    The short answer to this problem: Do what Athens / Clarke Co. has done, as well as numerous metro Atlanta counties. Get the county government to form its own police department, and use the power of the purse to rein in the sheriff.

    Not that it’s worked very well in Clayton Co., but very little does.

  2. Romegaguy says:

    ironic that you use the word “Little” in a sentence while talking about the Clayton County Sheriff

  3. Doug Deal says:

    Erick,

    The government should have very little power against the Sheriff other than budget. That is the whole point of having the Sheriff, the chief law enforcement officer of the county, as an elected official answerable directy to the people. As opposed to a chief of police that is answerable to some politician or board.

    Sharing of power is the best thing to prevent, or at least limit, abuse of power. Consolidation of all power under one group is a mistake.

    Next, do you want the DA to also report directly to the county commission?

  4. drjay says:

    also –i thought one of the big selling points of a consolidted gov’t was to end duplicated/redundant/overlapping services–having both county sheriff and county police seems like it would be quite redundant and overlapping and redundant

  5. bowersville says:

    If I remember correctly, Athens had a PD and Clarke County had a PD. Clarke County PD overlapped it’s functions into Athens city. The two were combined to eliminate redundancy of services.

    The SO runs the county jail and handles law enforcement functions associated with the court system.

    Again, that’s the way I remember it, I don’t know if Clarke County operates the same today.

  6. Erick says:

    Doug, except that counties have very little power in budget disputes with the Sheriff. I believe state law allows the Sheriff to make his demand and the county has to meet it, with few exceptions.

    Likewise a government can no longer start its own police force. The Sheriffs Associate successfully lobbied to get the law changed — now there has be local legislation and a vote of the people.

  7. Doug Deal says:

    Erick,

    If that is the case, then I might agree that the state laws need to be changed to cut some of the Sheriff’s power. I do think that it is wise to require a certain minimum level of funding of the Sheriff’s office, but it should not defined as “anything the Sheriff demands”.

  8. Icarus says:

    The state laws don’t need to be changed just because Clayton County voters are idiots.

    I like my sheriff just fine, thank you.

  9. drjay says:

    the coroner is the only one that can serve him a warrant (i’m not legally astute enough to know if that is the same thing as “arresting” or not) i also believe the state const. provides for the coroner to serve as “acting sheriff” should the sheriff become unable to perform his duties or removed from office…

  10. Doug Deal says:

    Demon,

    I think that a member of the state police passing through the county could arrest him as well, in addition to any FBI, BAFT and DHS agents.

  11. GeorgiaBoy says:

    So why did Augusta get mentioned in the blurb about the article about sheriffs? Augusta may have its share of characters and issues but the sheriff is not one of them by any means.

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