Changes to law enforcement in Waynesboro, Burke County up for vote soon

WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF) – Changes could soon be on the way for law enforcement in Burke County that impact the citizens of Waynesboro too.  Protecting and serving could change in Waynesboro as early as one month from now, but it all depends on whether majority of the city council votes yes on a contract.

When Waynesboro City Councilwoman Alberta Anderson heard the mayor’s pitch to combine city and county law enforcements, the measure had her vote.

“Since he has been here and brought in his people I can sleep at night,” she said of Sheriff Alfonzo Williams and his work.

She likes the job the sheriff is doing and wants to see police presence double.

“Have you seen to Highway 25? When you go to Highway 25 and you look up all of a sudden they are there behind you. Hope you’re not speeding,” she explained.

It’s a proposed Law Enforcement Services Agreement between the City of Waynesboro and the sheriff’s office. It states the Mayor, Greg Carswell, requested the sheriff’s office provide a list of services to include:

  • routine patrol
  • pro-active patrol
  • investigative services
  • narcotics services
  • special operations
  • housing enforcement
  • k-9 services
  • crime suppression
  • evidence collection
  • records
  • management
  • dispatch
  • Community Services
  • access to the Specialized Response Team

“I can sit on my porch. Where as before I hesitated to sit on the front porch,” Anderson said of the results of Sheriff Williams’ work.

NewsChannel 6 spoke with Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard, who said the contracted agreement would remove duplicated services such as two dispatch departments.

“We do answer city calls if they need assistance and back them up and they do the same for us. They come out into the county sometimes,” he added.

Waynesboro police officers would require more hours of training. And there’s no need to worry about job losses and pay cuts. It’s not a take over, but Blanchard explained some officers will actually see a pay raise.

“It’s a switch of a uniform and you save $200,000. It’s a win-win for the county and the city.”

That’s a savings Anderson said could go to more city staffing, but that’s not the biggest concern.

“I said it doesn’t matter about saving money, it’s about saving lives,” Anderson said. “If we can save lives, there’s no price tag on saving a life.”

The Law Enforcement Services Contract would be just that, a contract that would last two years and if it does not work out, everything would go back to how they operate now. A vote on this contract is expected as early as Monday.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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