The Glynn County Police Department is headed in the right direction but could be better with some changes according to an operations and management study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Two IACP members involved in the study — Joe Price, consultant, and Amanda Burstein, project manager — gave the Glynn County Commission an overview of the study Tuesday.
“We requested and received from the Glynn County Police Department reams of data that was scrutinized, analyzed, contact was made back with (county police) Chief (John) Powell and his staff so we could get a clear picture of what’s going on on a historic basis,” Price said.
Price, part of a team that visited Glynn County to evaluate the department, said they also interviewed 71 department personnel and 31 community stakeholders.
Recommendations were based around six pillars of a 21st century policing report the IACP helped develop, Price said.
Social media interaction, particularly on Facebook, is a strong point of the department, Price said. Getting information to the public quickly is a necessity in the modern world, he added.
One thing the department could do better is building a stronger relationship with the community.
“The most important part in today’s world is a component of time that should be dedicated for the officer to enhance the community relations through community policing and problem solving,” Price said.
The IACP uses a 30-30-30 model, where 30 percent of each officer’s time is devoted to administrative tasks, patrol and community relations with 10 percent to handle “fluctuations,” Price said.
Glynn County officers could meet that standard with relatively few new personnel, Price said, and recommended bumping up the patrol officer pool from 58 to 66.
Other recommendations included that the department hold regular events for the public to meet and talk with officers, assign officers to specific geographic areas and have them take responsibility for those areas and use statistics to target law enforcement efforts.
Finally, Price recommended Chief Powell review and potentially amend the department’s internal policies as they relate to use of force, pursuit and those that “provide the highest level of liability for the county.”
“The IACP found the Glynn County Police Department to be a full-service, community-oriented agency that continues to work very hard to keep the citizens of Glynn County safe. It is our assessment and belief that the department is moving in a very positive direction,” Price said.
Commissioner Mike Browning said he was one of those to request the study in 2014 after multiple high-profile run-ins between officers and private citizens.
“I wanted a blueprint, and I think other commissioners did, to get us from where we were to having the best police force we can possibly have. And I can tell you I’m pleased with this,” Browning said.
Commissioner Allen Booker asked what the IACP had to say about the department’s use-of-force policy.
“We did recommend to Chief Powell that his policy be changed. Now, this was back in September of ’17, that it be changed to meet the modern standards,” Price said.
He explained that modern policies generally stress “the sanctity of life for all ... the importance of de-escalation ... the importance of training new officers on how to de-escalate situations,” and that the study recommended officers receive crisis intervention training.
The department is moving in the right direction on that front, Price said.
In other business, commissioners heard an update on two historic live oak trees in Neptune Park on St. Simons Island. Limbs falling from the trees have led the county to declare them a safety hazard and rope them off.
Public Works Director Dave Austin said he had some gotten some quotes for a permanent fence, all under $20,000. The final cost would also depend on an architect’s fee and design.
Commissioner Peter Murphy asked Austin to put the project out to bid and bring it back to the county’s finance committee. It will go to the county commission after the finance committee makes its recommendation.
The commission also heard an update on major renovations to the Brunswick-Glynn County Library, discussed a disaster recovery grant and heard a presentation from a pension plan investment manager.