Metro's Special Units Work To Keep Crime Numbers Down - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Metro's Special Units Work To Keep Crime Numbers Down

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Savannah, Georgia -

One of the biggest concerns for most across our area is crime....but what type of crime may depend on where you live. Each Precinct Captain at Metro P. D. has been given authority to develop crime fighting initiatives specific to their neighborhoods. We're taking an inside look at some special groups of officers who may be attacking crime where you live.

"Focus efforts in the neighborhoods and daytime burglaries." Members of Southside's Delta Watch focus on tackling crime in specific neighborhoods. Captain Terry Shoop explains, "They have been tasked with getting to know the neighborhood, block captains, neighborhood associations - attend the meetings - find out not just what crime issues are in these areas - but what quality of life issues are in those areas." Officers like APO Norman Harvey ride the streets of their assigned neighborhood on a daily basis -

getting to know who lives there and helping the neighbors get to know him. APO Harvey says, "normally I carry a box of milk bones and I'll get out and feed their dog a milk bone and talk to 'em and talk to the owners - find out what their concerns are or if they've seen anything suspicious in the neighborhood."

That helps him stay on top of trends in the Kensington Park neighborhood before they become a big problem. He says, "We've had a 9% decrease in crime in the Southside this year compared to last year and I think a lot of it - especially when you start talking burglaries and that kind of thing - entering autos - is because we're not responsible for the commercial area and we're you know - designated to the neighborhoods - we're more visible in the neighborhoods." He worked with the neighbors to shut down thefts from autos over the summer - now home burglaries are trending up...a problem he's able to recognize and attack head on because he travels these streets every day. "Ii got with the neighborhood watch people and they had, they got with their people and we came up with a list of all of the vacant homes," says Harvey. So he can check them on a regular basis.

Crime isn't all these neighborhood officers encounter. On our day riding with APO Harvey, he was flagged down to rescue a dog trapped in a locked car. It was running and the heat was on. He was able to assist with the dog rescue and get to know some more neighbors in the process.

If the Delta shift's goal is to reduce crime by increasing officer visibility in specific neighborhoods...Metro's Crime Suppression units - which exist in every Precinct - are designed to target specific crime trends - no matter where and when they happen. Captain Ben Herron says, "Basically, their function is to deal with specific issues, crime-related issues - they're our tactical force if you would, that when we're seeing crime trends, they're gonna go out with hopes of preventing - but if we can nab some of those guys that are engaging in this - I mean that's another one of our goals." APO Eric Smith rides with the Downtown Suppression unit. On the evening we rode with him, they were interacting with some of the homeless near the city's East side shelter. Smith says, "It will help us where when we start having more of the crimes that start picking up toward the holidays and things like that - maybe we can get some people identified - some possible subjects."

The latest statistics show entering autos are on the rise...but that's not the only thing that trends up this time of year. ‘Savannah - unfortunately - as beautiful as the city is - if it's not bolted down - somebody will take it," says Smith. "We had video last year of some of the folks that were stealing some of the packages and we knew them to be homeless people - we just didn't have them identified. It took us a real long time to get names and photographs and stuff like that - so this year hopefully we're getting a jump on it ahead of time, before we start having that problem again."They'll focus their efforts on stopping the trends using whatever means are necessary says Smith, "We'll work undercover, we'll be in unmarked vehicles you know, running surveillance on different things - trying to address the problems, whatever they are at the time." A focus that can change day to day says Captain Herron, "We're looking at stuff daily to see what the crime trends are - we factor in the historical data - but as the current trends develop you know - we go ahead and react to these." APO Smith says, "People are gonna think twice before doing something in that area - now if they got to another area and do it - then I'm sure we'll be working on that problem next week - but for the most part - high visibility and preventive maintenance is what we're trying to do."

Visibility and prevention is also a special focus of officers who work downtown's Historic District on Friday and Saturday nights.

These officers head out into Savannah's busy bar and restaurant scene on weekend nights to make sure everyone stays safe. Officer Jeff Parker explains, "People who are from out of town - that are new to the area - you know - a lot of it is just asking you know - giving directions on where to go or where not to go."

This unit supplements the officers already working this beat...and many others working off-duty at various night spots. The crowds can make the extra patrol essential says Officer Ben Ferrero, "I'd say in the course of the night - we probably stop more issues than actually happen - I mean unfortunately when you get a lot of people out - a lot of people drinking - you're gonna have issues and that's where we come in."

They walk and ride through the District from 11pm till the wee hours of the morning - fanning out to keep an eye on those out to have a good time. Their goal? To diffuse trouble before it starts… "without having to put somebody in handcuffs and ruin their night," says Officer Ferraro.

Captain Ben Herron, "Ultimately - having these extra officers out there - helps us with creating the environment to prevent crime - knowing that we can't be everywhere. I think in implementing strategies - it's one of the more efficient and effective ways that we can use our resources."

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