By Nicholas Lawrence
We started this year off great with index crimes at their lowest numbers since records began in 1980, according to the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department. From the beginning of 2012 to St. Patrick’s Day, crime has decreased 8 percent from the same time last year. Public Affairs Administrator for the SCMPD, Julian Miller, tells us what’s causing this decrease.
“One of the biggest things that we have identified is even though we have the lowest number of crimes on record, we have one of the highest numbers of calls for service. These are members of the public who have called in saying there’s something going on in my neighborhood I’m not quite sure what it is, but you might want to come check it out and we do every time. We want to go check it out. That has helped us catch a lot of crimes in progress, helped us get people off the street, and the best way to get crime down is to get the criminals off the street.”
He says that having citizens trust and rely on their police department is a large part of crime prevention and regression. The SCMPD works on this hourly, he says. Captains are always trying to interact with the public, there are public neighborhood watch meetings and there are officers patrolling the streets and interacting with people all the time. But one of the most important measures taken is targeting the youth with officers dedicated to juvenile interaction .
“These officers go out and try to interact with younger people; teenagers and young adults, before there’s a problem. In schools, in community centers, in churches, anywhere they can, they try to interact with these young people. Sometimes they just need a little guidance. Sometimes they have no place else to turn, and the criminal element is very good at recruiting. And it’s easy for them to get pulled into crime. The juvenile officers are there to show them that there are other ways. They can introduce them to resources they may not know about, may not have access to, or may not know they have access to, and we try to build these relationships ahead of time before people get into trouble.”
Julian says that to continue a decrease in crime, the public must be aware and keep reporting suspicious activities. He stresses that even if you’re unsure about a situation you should not hesitate to call because it’s helping them do their job. During this year’s drop in crime, calls reporting suspicious activities went up 13 percent. You can have all the police presence you want, but the best weapon against criminal activity is a public that trusts and relies on their police department. Savvy in Savannah this has been Nick Lawrence reporting for District.Contact Nicholas Lawrence.