Police Agency Merger Bill Proposed in Georgia

State Rep. Victor Hill of Riverdale is pushing to let voters decide whether city police departments and county sheriff's offices should merge together.

Rep. Victor Hill says merging police departments and sheriff's offices would not only save the state money. He says if they share resources and information, more work can be accomplished.

Cairo police and Grady County deputies often attend functions together. Many enjoy camaraderie in and outside of work, but professionally, they don't combine forces.

Grady County is one of 13 counties in the state that separates its police departments from its sheriff's office, but a new bill filed last week could change that,” says Katherine Fagan, a Grady County resident.

Under the proposed bill, every four years voters would be allowed to decide whether they wanted their city police department to fold into their county sheriff's office. Most Grady County residents say they're in favor of shared resources and a shared office, such as the one in Thomasville.

"There's no reason to have separate offices and I think it would save taxpayers some money," says Bill Bishop, who is in favor of combined offices.

"Sometimes you can have shared information. They might have sources that can help the city and the city might have sources that can help the sheriff's department," says Tammy Merritt, also in favor of combined offices.

Folks here say if passed, this bill could bring swifter justice to criminals through a combined effort by police and sheriff's officers.

Law enforcement officials we spoke with declined to speak on camera. Some folks did express concern that combining the sheriff and police departments would put too much power in the hands of law enforcement officials. Those who opposed the bill also declined on-camera interviews.