SAVANNAH, GA (December 8, 2015): Tuesday morning Assistant Chief Julie Tolbert held a news conference to reassure the public and provide information about what the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department is doing to combat gun and gang/group violence.

Since November 1, 2015 there have been 10 homicides in the SCMPD’s jurisdiction, all of them shootings. Two of the homicides were domestic related, one is being ruled justifiable, and another one has been deemed accidental.  The rest are related to fights, drugs, and botched armed robberies.  Investigators have identified and/or made arrests in six of the incidents.

Below is the statement from Asst. Chief Tolbert:

“On behalf of Chief Lumpkin, who is at a law enforcement conference, we wanted to educate members this community of what their local police department is doing to address the violence and crime within Savannah and Chatham County.

This year, we have had an unusually high number of gun violence crimes in the city of Savannah and Chatham County. To date, we show a count of 54 homicides. Five of them are considered justifiable. Of course these numbers are very disturbing to all of us in law enforcement.

As you know, this is not just a police problem, but a problem that we all must take ownership in to gain control and reduce crime in our community. As much as we would like to, we can’t put a police officer on every block. 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.

It is not enough though. We need far more cooperation from witnesses of this community if we are going to minimize the number of shootings and deaths from gun violence that we are experiencing.

Every time, someone gets away with having committed a murder, the likelihood of them committing another one increases and places us all  in danger.

It is obvious that there are no gun shortages on the streets of Savannah. That is why we have had to work our officers on overtime to combat street violence.

Our Violent Crime Task Force officers, under the leadership of Lieutenant Ashley Brown, Sgt. Corey Schaff, and Sgt. Sean Wilson, have made great strides working in partnership with others to stop the violence. They 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.

Additionally, the End Gun Violence: Step Forward initiative, formerly known as “Ceasefire”, that we have spoken so much about, now has a Project Manager, Dr. Maxine Bryant. She will oversee and manage the program, under the leadership of Major James Barnwell.

We are also working with our local law enforcement partners, including the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education Police, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, the US Marshal Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the US Attorney’s Office, and the FBI. We are all working to address the major gun violence problems here in Chatham County.

Retaliations, drug related, domestics, a few robberies gone bad, to include four children who lost their life at the hands of their own mother.

We are still working to increase our staffing numbers, we recently graduate 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.

So, again we have to look at this as OUR problem and not just that of the police. It will indeed take the whole village working together to take back our community.”