SAVANNAH, GA (March 21, 2012): Crime in the Savannah-Chatham area is at its lowest point in recorded history and Police Chief Willie Lovett is crediting increased citizen participation as one of the most important reasons.
Total Part 1 crimes recorded for 2012 through St. Patrick’s Day ran 8 percent below the same time period in 2011 and 6 percent below 2010. That was the year with the lowest crime rate since records began in 1980. The figures were announced today in the weekly CompStat meeting in which police commanders and officers discuss crime patterns and plans to address them. They are available on the department website, SCMPD.org.
While crime is at record lows, the number of calls seeking police assistance has increased dramatically — up 8.1 percent over 2011 and 7.3 percent over 2010. The number of calls dispatched through the Emergency 911 center increased by 8.2 percent. The number of calls reporting suspicious persons has increased 13 percent in the first 70 days of the year. Calls reporting suspicious vehicles increased 6 percent and disorderly persons up 1 percent.
“This shows residents in the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department jurisdiction are trusting our officers more and working with them to help prevent crimes before they occur,” said Lovett. “That keeps our community safer.
“When our officers can respond as crimes are committed or before they are committed we have a good chance of preventing them and getting the perpetrators off the streets. When that happens, crime goes down, at least for the time they are incarcerated.”
Lovett points to other causes as well: he has adjusted his command staff three times in two years, including captains in most of his five precincts, to continue putting new strategies in place to curb crime. Strategic plans have gone into place to address the most prolific crimes of thefts from buildings and yards, residential burglaries, thefts from vehicles and shoplifting. He also has reached out to pastors of various churches in the area in an attempt to strengthen the ties between his department and their parishioners.
Lovett congratulated his force on the low crime rate this year and their efforts this weekend in securing records crowds for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival, he also cautioned them not to relax.
“Now is the time to make adjustments to continue the decline in crime,” he said. “I am proud of our efforts and congratulate all the officers who have worked so hard to produce them.”
Overall property crimes are down 9 percent from 2011 and 6 percent from 2010. While thefts from yards and buildings represent the highest category number with 403 so far this year, they are down 181 from the same time period last year. A specialized unit focusing on suspected vehicles carrying air conditioner parts and metal items and scrap metal yards that purchase such items has had a major effect on those thefts. Shoplifting reports continue to rise because retailers are putting more emphasis on catching shoplifters. Police are working with retailers in an attempt to prevent the thefts rather than focusing on arresting thieves after they shoplift.
Violent crimes trail 2011 numbers by 1 percent and 2010 numbers by 8 percent. Reports include two homicides compared to six last year and three in 2010. Aggravated assaults are even with last year and one below 2010. Twenty-seven percent of those assaults involve domestic situations. Only commercial robberies are up with 15 this year compared to nine in 2011 and six in 2010.
SCMPD also had increased its efforts to connect with young people in the area to discourage criminal activities by interacting with teens and young adults. Five juvenile officers representing each precinct are working together to reach out to at-risk young people and provide support and alternative actions. Lovett discussed with Savannah’s Mayor-Council in 2011 the need to double the number of juvenile officers and he has announced his intentions to request funding for that in the next budget session.
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