Chatham County Legislative Gang and Intervention Commission details opportunities to combat city’s gang problem

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Though the Chatham County Legislative Gang and Intervention Commission has only been operating for a few months now, it’s a commission that is certainly about action.

“This is a commission in action, since our last meeting last month we have already been in action. We’re partnering with an initiative called F.R.E.S.H. start with DJJ, and this is a job program that will get young people into jobs. We’re going to be meeting to ask for stakeholders, like businesses and companies to hire these youth. To give them an opportunity to work this summer and beyond,” said Georgia Rep. Carl Gilliard.

The commission brings together a wide range of community members with various backgrounds. The group introduced a number of new initiatives in hopes of combating Chatham County’s gang problem. Starting with intervention for the youth in Chatham County.

“The intervention part is, let’s do something for those people who want a way out. Who don’t want to be a part of violence and crime. Guns don’t die, people do. You can’t blame it on the gun you have to blame it on the issue of behavior,” added Gilliard.

Other programs aimed towards combating mental health, food disparities, and offering opportunities for students post-graduation were discussed as well.

“One of the biggest areas is also food insecurities, so we partnered with Savannah College of Art and Design and we have over 300 meals going out every day Monday to Friday starting next week. The last thing is, since the last meeting, Feed the Hungry is partnering with the District Attorney’s office and we’ve secured a grant called, Show Us Your Guns! These are for the individuals that have a simple firearm possession charge that are still in possession of a gun. That gun will be confiscated and then we will design a program for that person not to have a record, so those are just some of the initiatives we have planned,” explained Gilliard.

The Show Us Your Guns! pilot program is not for convicted felons, or for those charged for the use of a firearm.

Gilliard wants to the public to know that this is a community effort, and it’s going to take everyone’s involvement in order for it to succeed.

“As a total community, black, white, Vietnamese or hispanic, we must all get involved. And this is a cry, a call to everyone to drop everything and get involved. The most important thing to the city of Savannah, to everyone that’s listening, you cant do your own thing. I’ve seen it too many times, I’m asking you to come to this table,” Gilliard said.

The plan is to target the community’s youth before it’s too late. That includes both in grade schools and higher education, just like Savannah State University where the meeting was held. Individual programs will be put into place at Savannah State as early as this upcoming school year.

“Even though students come from across the world to our school, notably in our department we’re dealing with their life-cycle issues. Sometimes they come in, they’ve come from broken families and not really knowing how to navigate through college life. And as we are instructing them they’re starting to see some of the issues from their families,” said Catherine Gayle, Chair of the Dept. of Social Work at Savannah State University.

Gayle is excited about the opportunities this will bring to students all across the Coastal Empire.

“This is an opportunity for the stakeholders in the community to come together and look for ways of serving the young people in our community, and the world at large because when they complete our programs here they will go find employment in other parts of the world,” added Gayle.

The next Chatham County Legislative Gang and Intervention Commission meeting will be held on July 12th at Saint Leo University. All meetings are open to the public.

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