Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department's new Interim Chief is in her second full day on the job. Chief Juliette Tolbert sat down with News 3's Tina Tyus-Shaw to discuss the position. Following Chief Willie Lovett's sudden retirement, Tolbert was named Interim Chief by City Manager Stephanie Cutter. Chief Tolbert points out she has served in this position during Lovett's absences in the past, and is comfortable leading the department.
"There is actually no reason for them to be concerned about the Police Department.
The Police Department is still very strong. Those commanders that was in place when Chief Lovett was in the position are still in place. These commanders have been with this agency for years. We're talking decades of wisdom and knowledge, and experience, and they're still operating in that same capacity. "
Chief Tolbert spoke with Tina about her plans to move the department forward and to address the public's confidence in the department.
"Myself and Acting Assistant Chief Enoch are gonna work very hard to build that trust that the community may feel is lacking. That credibility is gonna be reinstated if at all lost. We're gonna work very hard internally and externally, and I don't think they need to worry."
On restoring faith and hope within the department, Chief Tolbert says:
"We're gonna actually spend time within each of the precincts talking with the officers entertaining any questions that the officers may have. Just trying to build their trust again because of course they're experiencing their own emotions about what happened. When you have a leader such as the police chief being, I guess, accused of misconduct the officers can't help but wonder how this impacts them."
The past at Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department will likely not fade anytime soon. The force is battling a list of controversial episodes that forced Police Chief Willie Lovett to retire. In Metro's weakest moment, this is the team charged with moving the department forward.
"I feel like I'm ready for the challenge, so I feel pretty good about it."
Interim Chief Juliette Tolbert says a major priority is restoring the officers' hope and faith.
"We're gonna actually spend some time within each of the precincts talking with the officers, entertaining any questions that the officers may have. Just trying to build their trust again, because of course they're experiencing their own emotions about what happened."
During this difficult stretch, Tolbert says there should be no worries from the community about performance.
"The Police department is still very strong. Those commanders that was in place when Chief Lovett was in the position are still in place. These commanders have been with this agency for years. We're talking decades of wisdom and knowledge and experience, and they're still operating in that same capacity."
Police Chiefs are usually measured on what they do to make the community feel safer. Chief Tolbert says, make no mistake, preventing crime is the primary goal.
"As we speak we are looking a whole lot better this past week than the previous week with violent crime and if we can keep it going in that direction I think, like I said, the community will be satisfied and pleased."
Chief Tolbert's first priority is filling the positions left open by the reassignments of Terry Enoch and Mike Wilkins.
I also asked her about the status of two officers suspected of misconduct.
You may remember, the District Attorney is refusing to prosecute any cases involving officers Malik Khalis and Willett Williams.
Chief Tolbert says that investigation is in the hands of the City Attorney. No decision will be made until that investigation is complete.