Since the departure of Statesboro Public Safety Director Wendell Turner last month, the Statesboro City Council has been charged with determining whether the next person to hold that position will do so under the current system, or if the all of public safety will see a personnel shift from a Public Safety Director – with oversight of both police and fire -or if Statesboro will move to a police chief model.
Under the Public Safety Director model, there is no police chief in the Statesboro Police Department. Unelected governing officials include a city manager position, deputy city manager position, and a public safety director, followed closely by a fire chief. A Major serves as a director of day-to-day operations of the police department.
In the opposite model, there is no public safety director, but a Police Chief with a Major serving under him, that runs parallel with the chief of the fire department, where there is also a deputy chief.
Before leaving in October, Turner suggested the Council consider making the move toward a police chief model for the purposes of resource allocation. He felt the Statesboro Police Department was not adequately served without a police chief.
But what are the implications of such?
Both positions are the same employee grade – a 26, so there would be no adjustments with employee classification. Both models have the same number of employees as well.
Currently, both police and fire contribute to the Public Safety Director position – and any subsequent resources directly related to the position. If a police chief model is established, a reallocation of funds would need to be considered based on who would oversee the fire department and what that role entails. The fire department could have more money returned to them for personnel, while the PD would likely need to offer slightly more.
Additionally, what is needed from a Police Chief goes beyond the scope of a typical agency or department administrator. Breaking down the responsibilities and duties between fire and police would provide for a well-rounded department-based approach, instead of an all-encompassing position. Too, a police chief is a sworn law enforcement officer, whereas, it is not required for a Public Safety Director to be a police officer.
Worth noting is that the Police Chief model more closely resembles the model outlined in the City Charter, embracing the City Manager form of government. Mayor Moore expressed her support of moving back to a Police Chief model. If that move is made, a resolution will have to be drafted and passed by the Council to create the position of ‘Police Chief’ with a job description and an organizational chart for administrative purposes.
No vote was taken on how to proceed. In the meantime, the Council has been considering candidates for the position, regardless of how it will be defined. Currently, Major Robert Bryant is serving as the interim Public Safety Director.