Sheriff John Miles asked commissioners during their meeting on Monday to support him in exercising the “out” clause of the Service Delivery Strategy agreement between the city and the county concerning dispatch and jail services.
During SDS negotiations in 2018, the jail and dispatch were one of the key areas of contention between the city and the county as the two entities disputed their understanding of the definition of a “city inmate” and when a city inmate becomes a county/state inmate.
As Miles told commissioners Monday, he had reluctantly agreed to the SDS agreement at the time it was adopted in 2018.
“I did not want to enter that agreement because I didn’t believe the sheriff needed to be in a shared services agreement,” Miles said. “I reluctantly entered into that agreement and lived to regret it.”
Miles said that he agreed in 2018 to specific terms of the contract and only recently learned that those terms were altered after his agreement.
“The terms of that agreement had changed after I had firmly stated what I would be willing to agree to and wouldn’t,” Miles told commissioners.
A quick glance at the contracts shows that Miles signed the agreement which was then signed by Mayor Ed Boyd and Commission Chair Glyn Thrift. Both Boyd and Thrift wrote by their signatures on both the jail and dispatch agreements, “To include a reference back to the DCA Form 2 for E-911/Radio-Dispatching services and jail.”
Those terms, Miles said, were never acceptable by him and were agreed to after his signature was made. In fact, the definition of a “city inmate” as agreed upon “was specifically rejected by me when it was presented to me,” Miles said.
After learning of this, he said, “I began to plan for the exit from that agreement which is outlined in the agreement itself. I want the commissioners to join me in the out-clause pertaining to jail and dispatch services.”
The out-clause requires the city or the county to give a 12-month notice to end the agreement.
Miles said he would be willing to enter a new agreement between the Sheriff’s Office and the City of Metter under correct terms. However, if the county opts out of the agreement and no new contract is made, Metter Police Department would be required to transport city inmates to another jail until a new agreement is made.
Regarding the Sheriff’s request, Mayor Ed Boyd told Metter Advertiser, “I don’t want to relitigate all of that. We have already litigated it and it has already been settled. They can opt out with a one-year notice.”
Boyd also informed the paper that the Sheriff sent letters to Police Chief Rob Shore and some members of Metter Police Department removing them as Sheriff’s deputies. In the letters to the involved officers, Miles writes, “I have taken steps to remove your name from the roll of deputy sheriffs which is maintained at the Probate Court of Candler County, Georgia.”
“It is my decision who I deputize,” Miles told Metter Advertiser, stating that he carefully selects the deputies that represent him in his office as Sheriff.
Boyd said that Miles’ decision “does not affect the police department or the citizens of Metter, but it would effect the county. This is just political. Our officers will still be available to help.”
Boyd added that the City pays the Sheriff’s Office $65,000 a year for non-emergency dispatch services, but he believes that deputies respond to in-city calls “when they feel like it. I believe they are detaining our dispatch so they can get there first.”
Additionally, he says, “The Sheriff is not authorized to operate a police force unless they are contracted to do it. The City has its own police force.”
Miles counters by stating, “My deputies and I serve the ones who live in the city the same as the county. We do not see jurisdictional lines of the city. That’s how we operate. We routinely answer calls in the city and we are happy to do it.”
This week’s issue regarding jail and dispatch agreements is one more area of contention between the city and county after county officials reiterated in June that they would not be paying for Engine 3 or for radios for Metter Fire-Rescue during Fiscal Year 2020.
The city responded in October, stating that the county had to either pay for those services or opt out of the SDS fire services agreement.