Local Law Enforcement Sending Officers to Presidential Inauguration

Chief Michael Berkow
Chief Michael Berkow

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department are coming together to send officers to the Presidential Inauguration of Barak Obama on January 20 in Washington, DC.

“Our first priority is obviously, the safety of our area,” said Chief Michael Berkow and Sheriff Al St. Lawrence in a joint release. “We have reviewed our staffing needs and although Washington asked us to send 200 officers, we are sending 97 and 27 bodies respectively to ensure local safety is not compromised in the least”

Patrol beats will be fully staffed during the short trip. SCMPD is sending officers from all areas of the department, including the Criminal Investigative Division, Training, the Office of Professional Standards, and the Savannah Area Regional Intelligence Center (SARIC). Only 62 patrol officers are taking part in the trip, most of them members of the department’s Mobile Field Force group which usually take days off to train each month. The trip will be in lieu of two training days. In addition, a number of the officers involved would be on regular days off. Since policing is a 24/7 job, about 1/3 of sworn staff are on off days at any given time. Four officers from SARIC will be working in the intelligence center.

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Department will be committing 27 officers from the Enforcement and Corrections Bureaus. “We do not expect any significant staffing shortfalls since we routinely have reserve officers that work on a regular basis”, said Lt. Tommy Tillman. “The Sheriff’s Department would not commit these deputies if we felt that we could not adequately meet the needs of the citizens of our community.”

“This is an unbelievable opportunity to allow our officers to see how a massive integrated event is handled by law enforcement. More than 90 agencies will be working together at the event,” said Berkow. “In addition, the federal government is covering all costs, so being able to allow some of our members to attend this truly historic event is both a pleasure and an honor.”

The group will leave for Washington on Sunday, January 18 in two buses flanked by SCMPD Training Vehicles. The group returns directly after their tour of duty is complete on Wednesday evening.

“It is a tremendous honor to be invited to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the créme-de-la-créme of law enforcement”, Berkow said. “Citizens should be proud their police are held in such high esteem and will gain valuable experience to help us during our special events such as St. Patrick’s Day.”

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