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SAVANNAH, GA (October 1, 2010): A 24 percent drop in violent crimes and 15 percent decrease in property crimes led the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department to an overall 16 percent  crime reduction in the first three quarters of 2010, compared to the same time period in 2009.

With 125 fewer robberies, 50 fewer assaults, seven fewer homicides and a dozen fewer rapes, police feel their efforts to reduce crime have produced significant improvement. Reports were down in almost every category of violent crime. Year-to-date statistics for the week ending September 25 also show decreases in almost every category of property crimes as well. Stats are compiled weekly, so the Sept. 25 report essentially represents the first three quarters of the year.

Police Chief Willie Lovett credited a plethora of strategies for the crime reduction, from reorganization of responsibilities within the department to improved use of the Savannah Area Regional Information Center (SARIC) to increased participation by area residents in addressing and controlling crime in their neighborhoods.

“We have always said we cannot do this by ourselves and we cannot arrest our way out of the crime problem we have in the Savannah area,” he said. “Our police work can be only as good as the information we receive and what we do with it.”

Chief Lovett set goals of 5 percent reductions in violent crimes from 2009 and a 10 percent reduction in property crimes. That goal has been met In each of the five precincts,

Of the violent crimes, 10 of the 15 homicides have been cleared by arrest as well as 99 of the 318 robberies and 20 of the 24 reported rapes.

Better communication with the public, proactive police work from the five precincts and specialty teams, and increased cooperation in intelligence communication with area, state and national law enforcement agencies were credited with the improvement. That cooperation was led by SARIC ,a division within the department that shares information with 14 area law enforcement departments, the Georgia  Bureau of Investigation and the FBI.

“The intelligence role is to keep information flowing, but I see the decrease as the collective result of individual officers doing good police work,” said Brian Renner of SARIC.

Police also credit the movement of responsibility for crime reductions to the five precinct captains who are challenged to take action to prevent crimes as soon as they detect trends. Efforts have included knocking on doors of houses to point out unlocked cars to combat thefts from autos; leaving a “bait car” officers can control after it is stolen to address car thefts; and focusing patrols in lanes rather than streets to address increases in burglaries, which usually initiate with entry through a back door or window.

Major Mark Gerbino, Commander of the Criminal Investigation Division and Major Crimes, credited “a pro-active synergy within and outside the department.”

“The captains take ownership to respond to crimes but also be proactive in anticipating crimes,” Gerbino said. “That change has been empowered and encouraged by the administration to go after crime.”

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