During the City Council meeting on Thursday afternoon, Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins asked that the council abolish the Marshal’s office and place the agency’s employees in the Sheriff’s Department instead.
There have been two previous unsuccessful attempts to eliminate the office, which serves the Municipal Court and handles evictions. Tompkins has asked the city to put the decision in voters’ hands.
“The timing is right because we are not asking the voters to unseat an incumbent. So, they can just vote on it on the services being provided. And the consolidation of the services makes more availability, as I said, to serve all courts. Not just one court,” said Tompkins.
Currently, there are three branches of law enforcement in the Columbus Consolidated government. The Sheriff and Marshal are elected by Muscogee County votes. In contrast, the Columbus Police Department is led by an appointed chief with the mayor serving as the public safety director.
The suggestion by Tompkins comes as Marshal Greg Countryman has announced plans to run against the current Sheriff for her office in the 2020 primary and there is a continued, significant shortage across the board in local law enforcement.