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Just four months into their 2010-2014 Strategic Plan, Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police already are closing in on their objectives.

Among the objectives of the plan that is being shared with the public this week are to exceed the national clearance rates of 64% for homicides, 41 Percent for rape, 27 for robbery, 55 for aggravated assault, 13 for burglary and 12 for auto thefts. Clearance rates for the department already exceed or meet four of those six goals and are less than a percentage point behind in the other two.

Division commanders in the department are responsible for developing specific strategies that lead their officers to achieving the goals. Those strategies are evaluated constantly and the outcomes monitored weekly in ComStat meetings of all commanders. The plan also affects assignments of manpower to precincts and shifts, based on officer workload volumes.

 Besides the objectives, it defines the mission “to provide quality services in partnership with our community which promotes safe and secure neighborhoods.”

 “Perception is important to this community and this department,” said Police Chief Willie Lovett. “Our citizens have a right to feel safe in their community and we have an obligation to nourish that perception. When we do our jobs well, everyone senses it and they participate with us in maintaining that perception. When the community works with us closely, the community not only feels safer, it is safer.”

 The strategic plan extends far beyond perception. It sets the core values of the department that will lead to the security of the community as a whole and goals that all divisions of the department are now including in their own crime prevention programs. “The core values … make us FIRST in service, FIRST in professionalism and FIRST in results,” the plan reads. It details:

  • Fairness – We treat all people impartially, with consideration and compassion. We are equally responsive to our employees and the community we serve,
  • Integrity – We are committed to the highest performance standards, ethical conduct, honesty, and truthfulness in all relationships. We hold ourselves accountable for our actions and take pride in a professional level of service to all.
  • Respect – We treat all persons in a dignified and courteous manner and exhibit understanding of ethnic and cultural diversity, both in our professional and personal endeavors.
  • Service – We provide service in a courteous, efficient and accessible manner. We focus on customer needs and foster community-oriented policing through problem-solving partnerships with citizens.
  • Teamwork – We foster collaboration among our employees. We work in partnership with the community and other agencies to ensure focus and commitment to achieving goals.

Under national standards that require cases solved from the previous year to be counted against cases from the current year, SMPD has cleared 100 percent of its homicides. In reality, investigators still are working on five of the 15 homicides reported this year, but they also cleared five others from 2009 to yield that 100 percent solution rate.

Savannah-Chatham police have cleared 10 of 22 rapes for a 41 percent clearance rate, 82 of 308 robberies (27 Percent), 162 of 252 aggravated assaults (55 percent), 215 of 1,768 burglaries (12.2 percent) and 110 of 452 auto thefts (24.3 percent — almost twice the national average.) More importantly, the number of reports of each of those crimes has dropped from 2009 levels.

Other goals of the department for the upcoming year are to ensure: 80 percent of emergency calls are dispatched within a minute; 80 percent of 911 calls are answered within three rings; traffic crashes are reduced 3 percent; all children in designated school zones cross safely; officer vacancy rate is reduced to 3 percent; and the percentage of minority and female sworn officers will increase each year from 48.5 percent in 2010.

Recognizing budgetary constraints faced by the City of Savannah and Chatham County, the department is not expected to grow from 839 employees it had in 2009 until it adds in three sworn officers in 2012 and five more in 2014. Currently, the department has 607 sworn officers and 232 civilians.

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