SAVANNAH, GA. (November 8, 2013): Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police and the FBI are teaming together to fight gang activity and violent crime in the Savannah area.

Metro Police Chief Julie Tolbert has accepted the FBI’s invitation to assign officers to the Southeast Georgia Safe Streets Violent Crime Task Force to focus on violence by organized neighborhood groups and violent crime in general.

Members of the team are provided clearance and full access to FBI databases for information on crimes and criminals as well as federal resources. They also are deputized as federal agents with authority to act nationwide, are provided additional training and exposure to complex investigative techniques.

The Task Force targets gang violence, organized robbery activity, firearms violations, interstate transportation of stolen vehicles, human trafficking and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations. The Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT) and Pooler Police Department also have committed. Ten similar task forces already operate in Georgia.

“This relationship will provide additional resources and information to address one of the most significant issues we face in Savannah, organized neighborhood groups,” said Tolbert.

“These loosely organized groups too often lead to criminal activity that holds law-abiding members of the neighborhood hostage. We’ve seen multiple examples of this activity from drug sales to fights, shootings and homicides. Task forces such as this serve as force multipliers, and we must use every resource available to address these issues.”

The Safe Streets Task Force provides sophisticated investigative techniques normally associated with complex organized crime and racketeering investigations. At least 195 Safe Streets Gang and Violent Crime Task Forces have been formed in cities and regions across the U.S.

The FBI initiated the program to enhance the relationship with area law enforcement agencies. While Metro and the FBI already have a strong affiliation, Tolbert expects this additional cooperation will help make a difference in her jurisdiction.

The FBI provides overtime funds, permanently assigned vehicles and operational expenses as well as inclusion in its own violent crimes investigations.