That’s the number of violent crimes that have happened in Savannah so far this year, according to Savannah-Chatham Metro Police.
City leaders and law enforcement have been working on ways to cut down on crime, but News 3’s Courtney Cole spoke to a Georgia Southern University Professor with some different ideas.
When it comes to crime in Savannah, Chad Posick says it’s time to take a look at the whole picture.
“A very small percentage of people, as well as a very small percentage of places, contribute to most crime, about 5% contribute to 60% of all violent crime.”
The Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice & Criminology at Georgia Southern has been dedicating his time to that five-percent—researching and working with the District Attorney’s Office on two approaches he thinks could effectively cut down on crime.
“I think sometimes our responses to crime are, ‘Okay, how to do we stop crime tomorrow? Or next week? What can we put into place that we think is going to have this immediate affect?’ and it’s not that easy,” said Posick.
The first idea he told News 3 about is the Savannah Violence Intervention Program. It’s designed to break the cycle of repeated victims of violent crimes.
“Anytime we see this type of violence happen, let’s send someone in to intervene to make sure they don’t retaliate or make sure—to the best extent possible—that they don’t become another victim of an injury,” said Posick.
The program has been a success at Memorial Health and Candler Hospitals since its inception in 2013; about 61 people are apart of the program. But, federal funding for this program will end in the summer.
So what happens next? Posick says he wants to present these ideas to Savannah City leaders soon,in hopes they will step up to fund it.
“A lot of times, federal funding—they’ll fund you for maybe one or two cycles—but they’re not going to keep funding the same programs unfortunately. So, to really look at sustainability, there has to be buy-in and some support from the local community,” Posick told News 3.
Posick told News 3 the grant application process is similar to the process students go through when they apply for scholarships. Applications can be 30 pages long.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance has already awarded the City of Savannah $350,000 for the second idea: The Smart Prosecution Project.
“We have a special prosecutor that is now handling all the gun cases that come in, the gun violence cases, in intervention-specific hot spots,” Posick said.
The second component of this project focuses on diverting what Posick describes as non-essential cases.
“More specifically, that would be the lower level cases, of lower level of drugs. And instead of prosecuting those individuals, diverting them into more prevention programs.”
Programs that could keep violence off the street of Savannah in the long-term.
For more information about Posick’s work, the Violence Intervention Program (VIP), and the Smart Prosecution Project, click here.