Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill told aldermen Tuesday night that if he is required to further reduce his workforce that some services may have to be eliminated.

Merrill discussed the organization of his department and asked aldermen for direction during their regular monthly meeting.

Aldermen Tommy Probst and Robert Gardner said they would like to see attrition to save money within the police department.

The chief said his department had been reduced from 50 employees to 33 and he noted that the two aldermen recently voted against the replacement hire of a dispatcher, a position which was already budgeted.

He asked how many employees they wanted him to let go.

Gardner said he was not asking for a number but suggested that positions be combined.

Merrill said every person he has hired is doing his or her job, adding that his office is in motion 24/7 patrolling neighbors and checking on businesses as well as making arrests and investigating crimes.

“I’m the chief and I was hired by the public to make sure I run this department right,” he said.

Aldermen Brent Smith said he thought Merrill was a “good leader.”

Smith asked aldermen if they watched the news and if so, did they not see what was happening in towns without a proper number of police officers.

He said Gardner and Probst were chastising Merrill.

Both aldermen responded that that was not true.

“We are all entitled to our opinions,” Gardner said.

Mayor Buz Craft intervened as the discussion got heated and called for order.

He ended the matter by asking aldermen to meet with the chief to discuss the police department operations. He said aldermen could take up the matter a later meeting.

Praising Merrill for the organizational chart presented Tuesday night, he asked aldermen to work together on the matter.



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