Grants Could Put More Officers On The Streets Of Savannah - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Grants Could Put More Officers On The Streets Of Savannah

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Help is coming to Savannah to combat violent crime. That's a promise made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a visit to the city Wednesday night. But what form might that help take? And just how much could it do? News 3 is digging deeper to find out.

The Attorney General met in private last night with Savannah's Mayor, the Chatham County District Attorney, and Metro Police Chief Willie Lovett. In a conversation after that meeting, News 3 asked them what assurances they'd been given. The Attorney General says he came to Savannah to listen and learn about the issues affecting the city...and to offer help. Holder says, "We talked about the ability of the Federal government to eventually provide more resources for more police officers, grants that we might make available to the city through our Office of Justice and the Justice Department."

Metro Police Chief Willie Lovett says one of the programs they discussed is called COPS. It stands for Community Oriented Policing Services. It's a Federal program begun in 1994 that awards grants to state and local law enforcement agencies across the country.Those grants are for things like hiring more officers, purchasing new crime-fighting technology and testing and developing new policing strategies.

If the city is able to secure one of those grants – Mayor Edna Jackson says it won't be the first time the Feds have stepped in to help reduce crime in Savannah, "If you recall - it was through his office that we were able to eradicate some of the crime in the Cuyler-Brownsville, as well as the Carver Heights areas."

Reverend Chester Ellis is President of the Carver Heights Neighborhood Association. He saw first-hand what a difference Federal involvement can make in cleaning up crime when Federal and local authorities work together. "It made a great difference out here - we experienced a drop in our crime rate in this area of 67-percent and when the Federal task force came in and they started to look at those things that, those crimes that could be under the federal umbrella - that put more teeth into the punishment phase," says Reverend Ellis.

The chief hopes a COPS grant could put more feet on the street. "In some of these grants - they will pay for police officers for x-number of years - but after that you have to agree to keep, to keep 'em on the payroll. So I'm not sure if the City is financially able to do that right now - so that's why I say it depends a lot on what kind of grants he's talking about," says Chief Lovett. The Mayor says the City will do what it can to bring in the extra help and keep citizens safe, "If it means that the federal government would pay for grants for 3 or 4 years - then we will try in any way possible to make sure we have these officers on the street - the visibility is just so important here in this community."

U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver has promised to help City leaders apply for the appropriate grants. The Mayor says they are also looking into the possibility of funding grants that could be used to expand the Savannah Impact Program.

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