The mission of the Homicide Unit is to investigate aggravated assaults, homicides, suspicious deaths, accidental deaths, infant deaths, and suicides in an effort to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. The Unit’s focus is to build strong, solid cases and provide justice for the victims of violent crimes.
The Homicide Unit evolved from the earlier (1995-1996) Robbery/Homicide Unit and is currently comprised of 2 Sergeants, 12 Detectives, and 1 Civilian. The Detectives receive extensive training in homicide investigations, interviews and interrogations, search warrants and affidavits, and various other courses to assist with violent crimes investigation.
The mission of the Robbery is to investigate Armed Robberies, Robberies by Force or Intimidation, Robberies by Sudden Snatching, and Bank Robberies by utilizing modern investigative techniques.
The Robbery Unit was originally formed as the Robbery / Homicide Unit in January 1996 and fell under the Criminal Investigations Commander. Today the unit is comprised of 2 Sergeants, 11 Detectives, and 1 civilian. Detectives within the Robbery Unit are required to successfully complete courses in Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation, Interviews and Interrogations, Search and Seizure for Law Enforcement, Search Warrants and Affidavits (Intermediate and Advanced), Crime Scene Investigations, Evidence Preservation and Criminal Procedure.
SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
The Special Victims Unit is responsible for the investigation of sexual assaults, abuse involving children, elder neglect and abuse, lewd behavior in the presence of minors, juvenile runaways and incidents of missing persons. The detectives focus on establishing all the facts through the collection of evidence and supporting statements from victim and witnesses. SVU detectives work closely with several organizations within Chatham County, including the F.B.I. Task Force, Rape Crisis Center and Chatham County District Attorney’s Office.
The Special Victims Crime Unit was originally called The Youth and Woman Unit, and then later changed to Juvenile Sex Crimes before becoming known as the Special Victims Unit. Today the unit is comprised of 1 Sergeant, 6 Investigators, and 1 Civilian. Special Victims Unit detectives attend an assortment of investigative training including Search and Seizure, Child Forensic Interviewing, Crimes Involving Physical and Sexual Abuse, Human Trafficking, Rape, and Crimes against the Elderly
The Financial Crimes Unit is responsible for crimes that include Forgery, Financial Transaction Card Fraud, Financial Transaction Card Theft Device Fraud, Identity Fraud, Computer Fraud, Bank Fraud, Financial Elder Abuse Fraud, Counterfeiting, Embezzlement, Check Kiting and Structuring, Financial Scams, Deposit Theft, and Tax Fraud.
The earliest form of a Financial Crimes Unit with the Savannah Police Department can be traced back to the 1950s – when the increased use of credit cards, and especially checks, started to become prevalent. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Unit became known as the “Bad Check Squad.” The name later changed to the “Bad Check and Forgery Unit.” Over the years, with the distinct increase in more complex financial crimes, the Unit evolved into a more specialized “Financial Crimes Unit.” Today the unit consists of 1 Sergeant, 4 investigators, and 1 Administrative Assistant.
While most training is done on the job with a training officer assigned to new investigators, other required training includes Basic Financial Crimes and Fraud training. One Financial Crimes Unit Investigator is recognized as a Certified Fraud Examiner.
The mission of Property Crimes detectives is to investigate crimes against property in an effort to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the cases. These crimes include burglary, larceny, auto theft and shoplifting, among others. Property Crimes detectives are assigned to each precinct and investigate property crimes that occur that precinct’s boundaries. The Unit’s focus is to build strong, solid cases and provide justice for the victims of property crimes.
Property Crimes were decentralized in 2007 from working at the Barracks and covering the entire jurisdiction to each Precinct. This decentralization places detectives at the precinct level and promotes greater citizen contact and follow-up. It also promotes greater coordination between patrol officers and detectives.
The Cold Case Unit was created in 2016 to review unsolved homicides and other major crimes in the City of Savannah. The mission is to help bring closure to victims of these crimes.
There are seven part-time detectives assigned to this unit, bringing with them more than 180 years of total policing experience and more than 130 years of investigative and forensics experience.
Cold Case Investigators
Paul McBurney, 30 years of law enforcement experience: Chatham County Police Dept. and SCMPD. 12 years of investigative experience.
Billy Ray, 30 years of law enforcement experience: Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, Chatham County Police Dept., BOE, and SCMPD. 27 years of investigative experience.
Dennis Malott, 22 of law enforcement experience: Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, Chatham County Police Dept. and SCMPD. 15 years of investigative and forensics experience.
Roy Willis, 30 years of law enforcement experience: Chatham County Police Dept. and Effingham Co. Sheriff’s Office. 25 years of investigative and forensics experience.
Tarra Smith, 8 years of law enforcement experience: SPD. 3 years of investigative experience.
Cold Case Unit Commander: Lt. Andre Jackson
T: (912) 525.2799
F: (912) 201-6732
The Savannah Area Regional Intelligence Center (SARIC)
The mission of SARIC is to provide information about both short-term and long-term crime patterns and trends, and to support investigative efforts to identify suspects responsible for committing crimes.
SARIC was created in 2007 by combining the former Crime Analysis Unit, consisting of civilian staff who were responsible for gathering information and formulating crime patterns and trends, with the former Intelligence Unit, consisting of sworn detectives tasked with seeking information on current criminal activity. Today this mix of civilian and sworn staff work together to gather critical, real-time crime date and pattern information. SARIC is staffed by 1 sergeant, 4 sworn investigators, and 9 civilian crime analysts.
The Intelligence Unit is commanded by: Utesa Chisholm
The mission of the Forensics Unit it to investigate criminal activity by documenting, collecting, and preserving the physical evidence of that criminal activity. We use numerous methods to accomplish this mission, including but not limited to advanced photographic procedures, latent fingerprint development and computerized matching systems, chemical evidence development methods, and evidence-specific preservation methods.
The Forensics Unit was formed in 2005 with the merger of the Chatham County Police Department and the Savannah Police Department. The merger consolidated the two independent units to form one with several specialized abilities.
Unit members are required to attend several specialized forensics classes at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, Ga., to achieve their Georgia Forensic Technician certification. Additionally, members will specialize in a specific discipline within the forensic realm, such as Arson Investigation, Cybercrimes, Latent Print Examination, Explosives and Post-Blast Investigations, and Video Recovery. Each of these disciplines require additional specialized training beyond what officers obtain annually.
The Forensics Unit is commanded by: Sgt. Steven Kohles