SAVANNAH, GA (January 8, 2012): Police Chief Willie C. Lovett advised Savannah City Manager Stephanie Cutter and Chatham County Manager Russ Abolt today that the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department posted the lowest crime statistics in the department’s history during 2012.
Total crime decreased by 12.1 percent in 2012, which included a 1.2 drop in violent crime and a 13.1 percent reduction in property crimes.
The number of crimes reported in the SCMPD jurisdiction also bettered 2010, which was the previous lowest since the city annexed the Southside areas south of Derenne Avenue in 1980. The jurisdiction includes the city of Savannah, the unincorporated areas of Chatham County and the city of Vernonburg.
Lovett credited a bevy of causes for the decrease in crime – proactive patrols, surveillance details, heightened responses to calls and building better relationships with the community his department serves. It was the latter that he said brought the best results.
“We always have said, ‘this is a community issue — we can’t arrest our way out of a crime problem ‘,” he said. “This year we had more than 481,000 calls for service – more than twice the number we had in 2011 – even though we had fewer crimes. That tells us the community policing efforts we have in place are helping. The public feels better about working with us.
“In addition, we can thank the community efforts of our Savannah Impact Program that gives convicted felons an alternative to crime. And we can credit an intensive effort by our officers to get the criminals off the streets as quickly as possible, even if we have to arrest them multiple times in a short time span. They can’t commit crimes while they are incarcerated.”
While crime reports were lower, Lovett was quick to point out that a number of high visibility, violent crimes brought concern to his department and the community. They could leave the perception that crime was higher than it was.
“We understand and share everyone’s concern about these acts and the severity of those acts,” Lovett said. “We are taking steps to address such incidents, including the establishment of a street drug squad already being assembled.”
Criminal reports fell in 15 of the 16 categories of crime composing Part 1 crimes. Only an increase in commercial robberies exceeded the number of calls in 2011 for that category.
Additionally, each of the five SCMPD precincts showed decreases compared to 2011, led by the historically most challenged Central Precinct. That precinct showed a 11.9 percent drop in violent crime and 25.4 percent in property crime. Central also beat 2010 by 16 percent in violent crimes and 17.5 percent overall.
Aggravated assaults with guns were down 11%, and street robberies were down by 8.5%. The robbery of commercial establishments is where the increase was significant, increasing from 82 in 2011 to 121 incidents last year.
“ I’m pleased with our success in the last three years, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” Lovett said. “We’ve impacted the number of thefts and burglaries, but we still have too many shootings and robberies.
“While I feel we’ve done a good job in arresting people who have committed crimes, we now have to turn our attention to preventing crimes from occurring in the first place.”
The department’s record crime decreases have coincided with Lovett’s tenure as Police Chief. He took over command of the department in 2010. In addition, the fourth lowest year in history was 2006 when Lovett was Acting Chief of Police.
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