SAVANNAH, GA (January 11, 2013): Downtown Precinct officers are employing a two-pronged approach in an effort to start the New Year off with fewer crimes reported in their area.
A Crime Suppression Operation code named TOTAL FOCUS last weekend severely diminished Part 1 crimes during a two- day sustained effort of more than 40 officers from Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department’s crime suppression units, state probation, aviation, canine, aviation and Neighborhood Task Force units.
And officers in the precinct have begun Operation SEE (Saturate, Educate and Enforce) to quietly interact with residents of the west Savannah neighborhoods to build relationships between Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police and the public.
The emphasis, says Downtown Precinct Commander Mike Wilkins is to address Police Chief Willie Lovett’s directive to continue the almost annual decline in crime in the area with innovative tactics.
Crimes in the precinct have fallen each of the four years since Capt. Wilkins has been in command and improving on those figures statistically becomes more difficult each year, he said.
“We walk the line between building relationships with the residents in our areas and enforcing the laws to protect them,” he said. “This is not an either-or scenario. We must do both.
“TOTAL FOCUS protects the residents and the rest of the jurisdiction by preventing crimes and taking criminals off the street. SEE builds the rapport with residents we need to identify these troubled areas, those who present the problems and identities of those who commit the crimes.”
TOTAL FOCUS, originally designed to crack down on highly troubled areas in the precinct evolved into a jurisdiction-wide effort that halted all Part 1 crimes while it was underway. Units fanned out across the city on Jan. 4-5 between 8 p.m. and midnight in an intelligence-led crime abatement operation.
The goal was to curb crime in some of the city and county’s most problematic hotspots through intense patrols and saturation. Over the two-day period during the times of the operation, there were no reports of violent crimes with uncharacteristically few larcenies.
Downtown Precinct Shift Commander Lt. Mike Wilson led TOTAL FOCUS which originally was designed to address problem areas in the precinct but was expanded to all five precincts with officers from each participating.
The operation resulted in 80 field interviews, 45 citations, 15 misdemeanor arrests, four felony arrests, three Public Housing Ban forms issued, and one weapon recovered. The success has led Metro leaders to plan similar operations throughout the coming months.
Downtown Shift Commander Lt. Katrina Hughes spearheaded Operation SEE, taking a contingent of officers door-to-door, talking to residents, hearing their concerns and encouraging them to take ownership of their neighborhoods and advise police when issues arise.
During the operation, More than two dozen officers passed out flyers, spoke with residents and left hangars on door knobs advising residents that officers have been there to speak with them and to encourage them to call SCMPD any time they see questionable situations arise.
Success of that operation as well has led Wilkins to ask his officers to schedule additional operations through the year.
“Most of the residents of these neighborhoods are honest, hard working people who find themselves weary of criminals around them,” Wilkins said. “We need their help in curtailing crime in these areas and they need to see us in situations other than crime scenes to feel comfortable enough to share information with us.”
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