Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Assistant Chief Julie Tolbert held a news conference Tuesday morning to address concerns about gun and gang/group violence and reassure the public.
The conference followed a rash of gun violence — since November 1, there have been 10 homicides in the SCMPD’s jurisdiction, all shootings.
In 2015, there have been 54 homicides in Savannah and Chatham County, with five considered justifiable.
Tolbert stressed that witnesses must step forward with any information if our community is to reduce gun violence.
“We have met with members of this community since these shootings began to seek assistance in identifying the responsible parties, and are now beginning to get some feedback through the CrimeStoppers program and through the growing trust of our officers,” said Tolbert.
She discussed the success of the Violent Crime Task Force, led by Lt. Ashley Brown, Sgt. Corey Schaff, and Sgt. Sean Wilson, in stopping the violence.
“[The task force] recently arrested 47 offenders for various offenses associated with felony crimes, over the course of a five-day period, 23 of which were felony arrests,” said Tolbert.
She announced that the End Gun Violence: Step Forward initiative (formerly Operation Ceasefire) is now managed by Dr. Maxine Bryant and led by Major James Barnwell.
SCMPD is also working on increasing the size of their force.
“As much as we would like to, we can’t put a police officer on every block,” said Tolbert.
“We recently graduated a class of about 32 and are seeking to place another large class in our January academy, but it takes time to prepare them for the streets,” she added.
In closing, Tolbert reiterated that police alone are not responsible for ending the crime wave.
“It will indeed take the whole village working together to take back our community,” she said.