When consolidation goes into effect early next year and the Bibb County Sheriff's Office takes over law enforcement, it could mean big changes for rank-and-file police officers.
Currently, both Macon police officers and Bibb County deputies are used to 12-hour shifts. That allows them to have part-time work and still have some time off.
But the new plan will create 8-hour shifts, meaning more days at work -- five instead of three or four on the 12-hour shifts -- and that would make it more difficult for officers to keep part-time jobs to supplement their income.
Bibb Sheriff's administrators recognize the importance of those part-time jobs, but say the officers should be focused on their police careers first.
"We understand that [part-time jobs] are necessary for their vitality," Cara Donlon-Cotton, director of strategic management for Bibb County, says, "but things are just going to have to change, and they're going to have to change for all of us."
She says there are still several months before the change would come so officers with part-time jobs have plenty of time to notify their employers. Officials, Donlon-Cotton says, will not keep officers from holding part-time jobs.
Another change that will be different for Macon police officers is that part-time work at bars and nightclubs will be prohibited, which is Bibb County's current policy.
The new starting salary for police officers has not been set in stone yet. Currently, both departments have similar salaries. Macon Police starts at $30,264, and Bibb County starts at $30,253.
The new plan would allow all officer to maintain their level of seniority in the new department.
Officials also hope consolidation helps tackle questions about officer discipline after several recent cases involving both Bibb County deputies and Macon police officers being arrested or investigated.
However, Donlon-Cotton says the expectations for law enforcement won't change for the new force, which will be more than 700 people strong.
"You're expected to uphold the law," says Donlon-Cotton, "and we're going to hold every single one of them accountable."
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