With violent crime happening seemingly every day, Savannah-Chatham Metro Police, City and County leaders are searching for new and better ways to keep the peace.
Many of them are headed to New York Tuesday to learn more about “Operation Ceasefire.”
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap tells News 3 this could be a game changer for our area.
“Why is this one different that the other ones?”
“It works,” said Meg Heap, Chatham County District Attorney.
District Attorney Meg Heap is a believer in this program.
She points to success stories in Boston, Richmond, Milwaukee and Baton Rouge, where crime is going down.
“It works because it makes everyone come to the table and use all the resources and tools the city has,” said Heap.
Those crime fighting tools are designed to stop crime, and killings. Heap believes 20 homicides in 2015 are enough.
“First thing you have to do is take the crime data, analyze it, find out where the issues are,” explains the District Attorney.
“Address it head on, and you address it head on with people who we know after we’ve analyzed the data are violent offenders,” said the DA.
The way Operation Ceasefire works is to bring those violent offenders together, and send them a message.
“We give you an option,” explains Heap. “Look, you can put your gun down, you can walk away. We know who you are…We will help you leave the life of crime or we are going to take you off the streets, and it works.”
The program follows with an area clean up. Making sure trash and broken windows are gone, giving folks pride in their community.
“You are going in there not as law enforcement, not as DA,” said Heap. “You go in there and clean up the area.”
Those local leaders who will be cleaning up then, are going to be studying this week.
Two days of “learning” about the program in New York City, before experts come here to start implementing it.
“We are going to learn how you do it, what are the hiccups, what resources do we need to use to utilize, what’s not going to work,” explains Heap.
Local leaders are buying in to the program, now the DA hopes the people of Savannah and Chatham County will too.
“Shootings and violence, people are frustrated,” said Heap. “So instead of us whining and complaining, which they have the right to do. This may be a solution.”
The City of Savannah has already put $240,000 to get Operation Ceasefire put into action.
But once the hard data starts to come in from Operation Ceasefire, Heap plans to apply for a Federal grant so the program won’t cost the county anything.
Nearly three dozen city and county leaders, along with law enforcement officials are going to New York July 15-17 to begin training on a new violent crime prevention program.
“There are communities all over this country where people are afraid to go outside, where everybody knows somebody who’s been killed,” David Kennedy of the Center For Crime Prevention and Control. “Where everybody knows somebody who’s been shot, where parents send their kids out in the morning and worry about whether they will come home.
Those are the words of David Kennedy, Crime Prevention expert, when he talked to the Savannah City Council and law enforcement leaders last year.
Savannah is now spending nearly $250,000 to institute his cease fire program to help stop violent crime in the city.
Now nearly three dozen people are headed to New York City for what they are calling the first stage of training in Kennedy’s program.
Among those, Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap, Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson, Savannah City Manager Stephanie Cutter, SCMPD Chief Jack Lumpkin, along with members of the FBI, ATF, Chatham County Sheriff’s, Parole and Probation and representatives from Georgia Southern, Armstrong and the NAACP.
Many of you contacted News 3 and wondered why city leaders are going to new york in the first place?
We went digging for answers and found out that this is the “first step” in training in Kennedy’s nationally known program.
Afterwards he will be sending representatives to savannah to implement all aspects of “Project Ceasefire”.
As for who’s footing the bill to go to the Big Apple? News 3 learned each agency is paying their own way.
The D.A.’s office says it will use forfeiture money to cover expenses, and Savannah-Chatham Metro Police will be paying their way through confiscated funds from drug and other arrests.