Georgia voters will decide fate of Glynn County Police Department

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. – Georgia voters will soon have a say on abolishing the scandal-plagued Glynn County Police Department that’s been talked about for months.

Gov. Brian Kemp has vetoed a bill that allows another bill to move forward to put the referendum on the November ballot.

The bill that was vetoed -- Senate Bill 504 -- would create a nonbinding advisory referendum on whether to abolish the department and hand its law enforcement responsibilities back to the elected county sheriff in unincorporated parts of the coastal Georgia county.

The bill gained support in the Georgia Legislature after the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. Efforts to abolish the department have been progressing slowly before Arbery was shot, motivated by a series of scandals, including the deaths of three people who died in shootings involving one Glynn County officer.

Questions still surround the involvement of Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson. She advised officers the day Arbery was shot that her former investigator, Greg McMichael, and his son, Travis, were “not flight risks” and did not need to be arrested, according to Glynn County spokesperson Michael Kent.

Johnson denies ever giving such advice.

In his veto letter, Kemp indicates he vetoed a weaker bill to let a stronger bill move forward, saving:

“Senate Bill 509, which I signed, creates a similar, binding ballot referendum to be held on the same date for the same jurisdiction. If approved, the binding referendum in Senate Bill 509 would automatically abolish the Glynn County Police Department and transfer the functions and assets of the department to the Sheriff of Glynn County. Because the presence of two similar ballot questions could lead to voter confusion, I veto Senate Bill 504.”

According to the bill, the stronger, binding referendum will be put before voters on Election Day.

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