Five months after coming on to the job, Richmond County School Safety and Security Chief Alfonzo Williams will launch an overhaul of his department next school year based on his review that revealed outdated practices, poor organization, unchecked records and other deficiencies.
The plan includes creating five new positions and revising the organizational chart. The new positions will be filled by promoting existing staff, and pay increases will be covered by eliminating one vacant position.
The Richmond County Board of Education approved the changes Thursday, noting the need for improvement but hoping that promotions are made in fairness and based on qualifications.
“This department, in the eight or nine years I’ve been on the board, the morale in that department has been a roller coaster,” said board member Jimmy Atkins. “It’s up and down ... I think any positive change is going to be great.”
A new state certification manager will be put in place to protect the three-year certification by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police the department received earlier this year.
In a memo to board members, Williams said he feared the department would lose the status if current practices were left unchanged. Williams said retention of records is lacking, officers need more familiarity with certification requirements, more training is required, agency goals are unclear, chain of command is undefined, and evidentiary polices and procedures are not being followed, among other issues.
The organizational structure will be amended to clarify job duties and better disseminate responsibilities. Because some employees are handling too many responsibilities, Williams said the department is six months behind on Uniform Crime Reporting, which requires agencies to send crime statistics every month to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The current four-zone patrol structure will be reduced to two divisions, the north and south sides, which will be overseen by two new positions: a field service division lieutenant responsible for all patrol functions of the south side and north side corporals, and an administrative services division lieutenant responsible for dispatch, vehicle/fleet maintenance, training, fingerprinting, records and evidence, and emergency preparedness duties.
A new emergency preparedness officer will be dedicated to emergency crisis prevention and education. The fifth new position, an internal affairs investigator, will work threats, assaults, burglaries, thefts and other crimes that occur on school property. The defunct internal affairs division will be resurrected and combined with this position, which will help in investigating internal and criminal matters, Williams said.
Williams said candidates for these five new positions can now apply and may take on these responsibilities in addition to their current patrol duties.
Along with these changes approved Tuesday, Williams said two officers will be assigned to float among the 34 elementary schools, which has not been done in the past. The department will also fill seven vacant officer positions to bring the total officers to 36.