SAVANNAH, GA (December 5, 2014):  A special task force comprised of Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police officers who volunteered for it has completed its mission with impressive results. But what didn’t happen during its existence has most impressed fellow officers.

In the two weeks the Violent Crimes Task Force operated, robberies decreased 57 percent from 35 in the first 15 days to 15 in the second 15 days when the task force operated. Aggravated assaults decreased 21 percent from 19 to 15. Overall, violent crime decreased 43.9 percent.

“Experience and ‘Best Practices’ tell us that the best way to prevent crime is to remove the criminal,” said Metro Police Chief Joseph H. Lumpkin Sr. “The 32 suspects this task force arrested on felonies certainly committed no crimes (since their arrests), and the citizens of our community were much safer. I applaud the efforts of these officers and thank them for their service.”

The task force led by Southside Precinct Lt. Ashley Brown operated at times that crimes traditionally occur, targeting specific areas across the jurisdiction in Savannah and incorporated Chatham County. In each area, they augmented regular patrols and officers participating in other special initiatives by Metro.

“Our officers felt they knew where crimes were most apt to take place and, in many cases, who might be committing them,” Brown said. “We had the freedom to go where we felt we needed to go without the responsibilities of regular patrol and it worked.”

“We are proud of what we accomplished, but special assignments such as this are demanding and can operate effectively only for limited periods of time. We hope to reconvene again in the near future, using our experiences and lessons learned to make us even more effective.”

The task force performed 32 arrests for felonies and 45 for misdemeanors; issued 196 traffic citations; seized a dozen guns, four of which were determined to have been stolen; and field interviewed 387 people who drew their attention. Four of the subjects from which firearms were seized were convicted felons.

The arrests included 10 for possession of cocaine, three for possession of marijuana, four for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, four on felony warrants, three for fleeing to elude police officers, two for felony probation violation, and one each for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, sale of cocaine, possession of methamphetamine, theft by receiving stolen property (firearm), and felony parole violation.

The results with the corresponding crime decrease drew the praise of department leaders as well in Wednesday’s weekly CompStat meeting:

“I will tell you,” announced Maj. Larry Branson, commander of the Criminal Investigations Division, “that the men and women in our Violent Crimes and Robbery units certainly appreciated the efforts of the men and women in this task force.”

While the Violent Crimes Task Force is being discontinued, another unit is being convened by another lieutenant and other initiatives by the department are continuing. They include walking beats in the Entertainment District, a Quick Reaction Force in the Central Precinct and a specialty engagement unit focusing on downtown residences and tourism. Other “best practices” initiatives that will not be announced publicly are also being implemented.