42 homicides and a series of attacks in midtown and downtown have made the biggest headlines in Savannah, deservedly.
But SCMPD Chief Jack Lumpkin told News 3 he wants everyone to look beyond the front page and see the big picture.
Look at what he and his officers have been doing.. making a difference.
“Our crime rate has been falling and we think in September it will be five straight months,” said Chief Jack Lumpkin.
That’s what Chief Lumpkin says, and he has the charts to back it up.
If you compare year to year data, from 2015 to 2016, he says there are a lot of negative numbers, which is a positive for police.
Total violent crimes in June are down 33%. July by 12% and August almost 5%.
For the year, Savannah has a 14% rise in crime over 2015, and the Chief blames that on one thing, the groups which are attacking and robbing citizens.
“The people that have been committing the armed robbery and armed robbery shooting are a group and could be a gang. you may hear police call them a robbing crew. they don’t care of they are bloods, crips, etc that doesn’t matter, they are bad people, they are grouped together there are more than 3 of them. they are committing crimes, committing crimes against persons.”
“The way you reduce homicides for the long term you reduce aggravated assault. the base crime that was when one person is harming another typically with a gun. if we bring down that number, we will bring the number of homicides down.”
Chief Lumpkin admits we haven’t “solved” the crime problem by any means.
Those same crime stats show that aggravated assaults are up 12% from last year.
Homicides are up 37% for the year.
42 homicides. A 10% increase in violent crime.
It is a number that shocks Savannah residents, and angers the Police chief.
That’s why Chief Lumpkin is asking for more. More officers, more technology and more tools to fight crime.
That’s how many programs, officers and equipment Chief Lumpkin put on his “need” list.
It’s a list of programs, training, equipment, officers, anything which would help fight crime.
Savannah City Council asked Chief for, now the question is how many of these things will he get, and how will the city pay for it.
“Most of these things we should have added 2-3-4 years ago. So we are playing catch up,” said Savannah Alderman Julian Miller.
“Here we are, we are trying to catch up,” said Mayor Eddie Deloach.
The Mayor and Council agree, its time to ante up and give police some help.
But the list of things that can help is long, and expensive.
Public safety cameras, 160 new police cars, training, upgrades in car computers and a family justice center.
Those are the low cost things.
The biggest expense on this “wish list”, a new police precinct.
“The headquarters we are using now was deemed obsolete for modern police work in 1898,” said Julian Miller.
But that “modern” headquarters also carries a $50 million price tag.
“We do need to give him just about everything on that list,” explained Miller. “How to do it is something else. We don’t have $30 million or more laying around.”
One way the city is looking to help pay for it is right next door.
The police parking lot is prime territory for development and sale on Oglethorpe ave.
“Its a viable piece of property in a Downtown area and its a place we would like a heavier density of people not a parking lot not a police station,” explained Mayor Deloach.
Thats one of several city owned properties which could be sold.
A multi-million dollar start, but not nearly enough to cover the costs of these things the Chief deems “must have”. A cost the people of Savannah may have to bear.
“We are going to take care of them (Fire, Police and EMT’s) and they are going to take care of our citizens and when its all said and done we are going to let the citizens do what they feel is right.”
“The way i look at it,” said the Mayor. “Is had we not spent this money where would we be? had we not had the additional officers where we be? had we not had the additional technology where would we be? Would we be worse off that we are. I think so.”
The first step in the police process and the first decision in front of the council comes Thursday.
More than $1 million in cameras, technology and cars are on the agenda to be funded.
But the bigger decisions, including adding 100 more officers, which would make this the largest police department in Savannah history, and how to pay for those salaries, are still to come.