Final crime numbers for 2011 show Savannah- Chatham Metropolitan Police had one of their best years since 1979, but they were not able to maintain the extraordinary pace they set in 2010. Violent crime numbers in 2011 were 21.2 percent below 2009, 30.8 percent below 2008 and 32.6 percent below 2007, but they were 5.2 percent above 2010.
“Our goal in 2011, as in all years, was to beat the previous year’s figures, but 2010 was the best year we have had since the 1970s and we knew even matching those figures was going to be difficult,” said Police Chief Willie Lovett. “Still, there should be nothing but praise for the efforts our command staff, officers, investigators, forensics and intelligence experts put forth in 2011. Compared to 2010, having the second best year since we have been keeping records should be a source of pride.” Homicides were a challenge for police countywide. In the SCMPD jurisdiction, homicides increased from 20 in 2010 to 26 in 2011. While that number was under the 26.5 average for the past eight years, the fact that suspects are younger is disconcerting. Three suspects charged this year were 16 at the time of their arrest. For the first time in recent history, three other municipalities in Chatham County also had homicide reports.
“The younger age of homicide suspects should serve as a warning to the community,” Lovett said. “It will take a grass roots effort to stem this tide. This is not a police issue but a society issue. Too many of our young people are falling prey to the temptations of illegal activities and the crimes they are committing are becoming more serious.”
In reaction, Lovett is planning to request five additional juvenile officers to join the five he already has assigned to the different precincts to seek out challenged youths and build relationships to help steer them toward more productive lives and provide help when it is needed.
Concerning property crimes, increases in commercial burglaries, shoplifting and “thefts from buildings and yards” offset decreases in residential burglaries, purse snatchings and thefts from vehicles. Police all year focused on thefts from yards. Calls from community members helped make most of the arrests that cut down on the thefts from vehicles. “Police can have a shortterm impact on crime, but the long-term solution is a working relationship between the police and the community,” Lovett said.