“This historic decision tonight is in no way a reflection on the services currently provided by Henry County Police,” said Stockbridge Mayor Mark Alarcon at a special called meeting Tuesday. “It’s about accountability and public safety. Our goal is to build a diverse team of highly-trained officers that will be engaged in our community. Public safety will always be priority No.1.”
Stockbridge has not operated its own police services since the city council dissolved the department on June 15, 1978 and handed the reins over to the sheriff’s department.
Henry County Police took over when its department was created in 1991.
Stockbridge residents don’t pay city taxes but do pay county taxes for countywide services, which includes police services in the city.
Alarcon said he expects a millage reduction for those services from the county so as to help fund the Stockbridge Police Department.
The city council met Tuesday to review and revise all of its service delivery strategies, which gives Stockbridge the opportunity to reach agreement with the county on the delivery of services in an effective and cost-efficient manner to its residents.
The county is currently required to provide the same level of police services to the city of Stockbridge as it does to the unincorporated areas of Henry County, according to an intergovernmental agreement.
The city has paid an additional $1.45 million to the county over the past three years for two extra officers per shift and another $2.56 million to renovate its former city hall, which the county rents as its North Police Precinct.
The city contracts annually for about $155,000 in additional off-duty police services.
Alarcon said some initiatives of the new police force will include neighborhood watch programs, community-oriented policing, a citizen’s police academy, public safety training for residents, in addition to providing stellar police services to the Stockbridge community.
He estimates the new police force would be operational next year but said Stockbridge will need to coordinate its efforts with the county.
The mayor said the city will seek state and federal grants to offset its start-up costs.
In addition to police services, the city council also decided Tuesday night to bring back in-house responsibility for building permits and inspections, the city’s comprehensive plan, planning and zoning, and soil erosion and control inspections.
For more information, contact Alarcon at (678) 951-5561 or email@example.com
Henroy County Police Chief Keith Nichols issued the following statement this afternoon:
"The Henry County Police Department has had a very positive and beneficial relationship with the city of Stockbridge for many years. I personally have experienced a 22-year relationship with the city and feel that Henry County Police Department personnel has excelled in meeting the law enforcement challenges that they have faced in this growing community. I obviously have mixed emotions regarding the end of this relationship. On one hand, I am saddened by this decision but comprehend why they decided to pursue this path."
Our agency has an excellent working relationship with all the city police departments in Henry County and we look forward to continuing our goal to make Henry County the safest community possible in partnership with the future leaders of the Stockbridge Police Department.