ONLY ON 3: SCMPD Chief reacts to civilian cuts

93 positions are on the chopping block in Savannah.

Its part of the process to fix the $18 million budget shortfall facing the city at the beginning of 2018.

We told you about the Savannah Ambassador program and Community Resource Officer jobs ending.

You can add the Savannah Impact Program to that list.

SIP focuses on “high risk” or “at risk” kids and adults, giving them a chance to learn a skill, stay out of trouble and get life on track.

But the program lost favor and effectiveness in recent years.

“There were no night visits, there were no random drug tests they lost the support of probation,” explained WSAV Crime Expert Gerry Long. “They lost the support of parole they lost the support of juvenile court, so it became less and less effective.”

“It should not make a difference if others are going to do the workforce training and development and maybe they can do it better,” said SCMPD Chief Jack Lumpkin. and if others are going to do the actual monitoring of high risk individuals if those tasks and those responsibilities will continue under another roof then we will be fine.”

“I have reduced crime elsewhere without SIP.”

SIP is now gone, saving the city about $1.3 million.

Some of the 24 civilian positions cut from the 2018 Savannah Police budget.

“We do not want to downsize the civilian staff to such a point that we have to pull police officers to do a civilian function,” said Lumpkin. “That is inefficient and ineffective and it costs more to do that.”

Cost is the key. Not just in dollars but according to the Chief long term. Losing civilians now instead of officers means a stronger police department later.

“We do not want to reduce in force police positions/ It will harm our recruitment for years. We will suffer from that if we have to lay police officers off.”

“The northern departments that cut officers. it took them years to recover their reputation and have adequate recruits apply to get back to full staff.”

The Chief says the Community Resource Officers that were cut learned almost 6 months ago.

“When you do the analysis on it The calls for service they were answering and the time does not equate to an efficient operation.”

“Police officers themselves need to be part walk and talk, and we don’t need to change that we need to interchange and interface with citizens.”

Its all part of what the Berkshire report recommended – fewer civilians in certain positions.. a reorganization of the department for better police services.

“No I would not consider it a mass exodus, and there are other jobs that are available that other people and most of the city people will qualify for those positions. My desire would be that no one actually loses a job, we will actually fill in with our own people. Sometimethat’sts not possible.”

The city is creating 33 new jobs and “unfreezing” 190 other positions. All fired employees can apply for those positions.

The Chief said his next push will be for better technology.

The money needed for that could cost more jobs. But he believes the department will “right size” itself over time through retirement and attrition.

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