Valdosta Daily Times

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March 30, 2013

Lanier sheriff proposes takeover of Lakeland law enforcement; Mayor says nothing’s official

LAKELAND — Though Lanier County Sheriff Nick Norton has drafted a proposal to outsource the Lakeland City Police Department to the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office, Mayor Bill Darsey said nothing has been formally discussed or drafted between the City of Lakeland and the Lanier County Sheriff's Office to consolidate the departments.

Norton has based his proposal on the example of the City of Shellman contracting its police operations to Randolph County.

Norton has drafted a template for a contract that would bring to fruition the founding of the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office’s “Lakeland Division,” a part of the sheriff’s office contracted to police Lakeland.

Norton’s template provides for seven Lakeland division officers, monthly reports to the Lakeland City Council, inmate logistics, injury and hardship, radio frequency considerations and the cannibalism of police department assets to offset start-up costs.

But Darsey said the proposal, untouched by county or city lawyers, is merely a proposal and shouldn’t be treated as a contract.

“He has some good ideas, but the proposal is incomplete,” said Darsey.

“We were just looking to see if we could save the taxpayers some money, but we don’t see how at this point.”  

The ball is in the city’s court, according to Norton who said he hasn’t received any formal feedback on the matter.

“I’m certainly willing to sit down with them,” said Norton. “Right now, it’s just a discussion. I’m willing to discuss the proposal with them and bring some professionals to the table. It’s entirely up to the city.”

Darsey, however, said he has no plans of taking Norton’s proposal into a public forum for formal discussion.

“It was nothing more than a discussion between us on a possible provision to explore whether or not money could be saved between us,” says Darsey. “The Lanier County News reported on it and everyone has blown it way out of proportion. There’s no story there and that’s the honest to goodness truth.”

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