Stockbridge takes first steps to establish its own police department 

The Stockbridge City Council voted to secure $3 million in municipal bonds to cover initial costs to start forming its own police force.

It hasn't had a police department in about 50 years.

City leaders said community members have voiced their desire for a police department for years.

Councilwoman Yolanda Barber said she learned about the community's desire for its own police force back in 2018, as she canvassed neighborhoods in an effort to keep a portion of Stockbridge from breaking off to form its own city.

"One of the things I heard the most was the desire to establish a police department," she said.

Currently, officers with the Henry County Police Department will respond to calls within the city.

Stockbridge is made up of about 30,000 people, making it the largest city in the county.

"The city is growing and we want to be very proactive in making sure that public safety is first and that we keep the community safe," said Elton Alexander, Mayor Pro Tem.

Alexander said Henry County police are spread thin and having their own force will also allow for better community policing.

"We don't want to be just responding to crime, we want to be preventing crime, having officers patrol and actually walk the beat," he said.

But, of course, developing a brand new police department comes with a price tag. It's an issue that was brought up during Monday night's city council meeting.

"There will probably be some kind of city tax involved and I'd rather like to know or at least let the citizens know that there will be a tax," said Mayor Anthony Ford.

Alexander said the first step will be hiring a police chief. Then, city leaders will work together to figure out the plan for funding and figure out how big the department would need to be.

He hopes a police chief will be in place within the next three to four months.

"We didn't start this to sit on it or not move it forward. The consensus of the council is to move it forward as rapidly as possible and create a quality police force for the city," Alexander said.

City leaders plan to hold town halls after they hire a police chief so the community can be up to date on information and give input.

The city will also establish a citizen's review board, to allow community members to be able to bring up any concerns.

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