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Change Proposed for Who Polices the Macon Police | News

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Change Proposed for Who Polices the Macon Police
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Spurred by the deadly police shooting of a man outside a supermarket, some Macon council members want to take internal affairs investigations out of the hands of the Police Department.

They want the internal affairs division to report to the city's Chief Administrative Officer instead of the police chief.

City councilman Virgil Watkins says he's supporting the proposal "with hopes that it will bring greater accountability to avoid situations where we have officers missing court, being outright abusive with the system 15 to 20 times without any progressive discipline."

Watkins said the "catalyst" for the proposal is the fatal shooting of Sammie Davis Jr. by Officer Clayton Sutton outside a Kroger on December 21.

13WMAZ's open-records requests later revealed that Sutton had been disciplined more than a dozen times.

Sutton is now on paid administrative leave, usual practice for an officer involved in a shooting. The District Attorney is now deciding whether to seek criminal charges in the case.

Watkins says a few private citizens sit on the existing police review board used to determine discipline for police officers, but they don't have the power to vote on decisions. The proposal would change that.

Council members Elaine Lucas, James Timley and Henry Gibson also endorsed the proposal. Gibson is a retired police captain.

A council committee is expected to discuss the proposal in the next two weeks. If it passes, full council would likely vote on March 19.

Meanwhile, Gibson sparked discussion about tasers for officers at Monday's committee meeting.

Earlier this month, Police Chief Mike Burns told city council he plans to arm his entire force over the next five years, starting with 60 sergeants.

Gibson proposed legislation changing the priority list for who gets the weapons, saying privates should be the first in line.

Gibson says does not know how many privates are on staff, but at nearly $1,600 each, arming all of Macon's over 300 officers would cost just under half a million dollars.

Also in Monday's meeting, the committee approved almost $600,000 for 25 new police cars.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis gave them the go-ahead to buy the vehicles. They will become part of his consolidated fleet next year.

To save a little money, they will mark the new cars similar to the design proposed for the Macon-Bibb vehicles. Full council will vote on that Tuesday night.

In Tuesday's meeting, Macon council will take a vote deciding if they want to join in on the fight against a bill proposed by State Senator Cecil Staton.

That legislation takes away the Bibb County Board of Education's power to approve its own budget.

Every year, the new consolidated commission would have to sign off on the BOE budget.

Bibb county commissioners already signed an ordinance opposing the bill.

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