Georgia Legislature sends bill that could abolish Glynn County police department to governor

The Georgia Senate on Monday approved an effort to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department.

The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk for his approval.

A version of the legislation, Senate Bill 38, was initially introduced in January in response to years of alleged problems with the Glynn County Police Department. That bill didn't advance, but was revived after the department's handling of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

The Senate unanimously approved the measure, sponsored by Brunswick Republican state Sen. William Ligon, which allows voters to decide to eliminate their county police departments, moving authority to county sheriff's offices. The House approved the legislation 152-3 last week.

There are several county police departments in Georgia, including in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties. In counties where there are two agencies, the county police handle the enforcement of state and local laws while the sheriff’s office manages the jail.

A broader measure, which would have allowed residents in any county to vote to dissolve a police department, was approved by a Senate panel in January but did not advance further.

The vote comes after the shooting death of Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was killed in February near Brunswick. Three white men, Travis and Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, have each been charged with felony murder in the Arbery case, which has drawn national attention and sparked demonstrations.

“There have been too many missteps over there,” said state Rep. Al Williams, a Democrat from Midway. “It’s time to be going in a different direction.”

Travis and Greg McMichael were charged with murder and aggravated assault in May after video of the incident surfaced and the GBI opened an investigation.