SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah Mayor Van Johnson held his weekly press conference Tuesday morning to address a variety of issues facing the Hostess City, including recent gun violence and a lack of relief for businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Getting one himself, Johnson first urged the community to get flu shots. Coastal Health District nurses administered the shot ahead of a drive-through flu shot event.
Johnson hopes his “lead by example” style of leadership encourages people to make safe health and safety decisions. Savannah Police Department (SPD) Chief Roy Minter says there have been nine nonfatal shootings in the past two weeks. One involved a five-year-old child.
“Alderman Palumbo and myself were at the hospital looking into the eyes and holding the hands of a little five-year-old who can’t articulate what’s happening to her, but she knows it hurts,” said Mayor Johnson.
Chief Minter says so far this year, there have been 82 incidents involving someone who was shot. This time last year, he says there were 96 incidents, which is a five percent decrease.
Regardless, Chief Minter says there has been a 14 percent increase this year in the number of victims and a 20 percent increase in the number of shooting incidents at SPD’s Northwest Precinct.
At SPD’s Southside Precinct, there have been an 11 percent increase in the number of victims and a 6 percent increase in the number of shooting incidents.
To combat the problem, Minter says SPD is working with community and faith-based groups. He says he has created a Patrol Special Investigations Task Force.
In two weeks, officers on the force have made 19 felony arrests, 16 misdemeanor arrests, 233 traffic citations, and have recovered 13 firearms. The chief is also working with a Strategic Investigations Group.
“This involves representatives from every law enforcement agency in Chatham County,” explained Chief Minter. “We’re getting together on a weekly basis and making sure we’re sharing accurate information because we’re seeing some of these incidents are crossing jurisdictional lines.”
Mayor Van Johnson says he believes he has a partial solution to the economic problem facing business owners in the area. He says the Department of Housing and Urban Development will allow a $1.36 million grant to be used to help small businesses.
“In spite of the State of Georgia, in spite of Governor Kemp, Savannah is going to do the right thing,” said Mayor Johnson who says he will propose the funding plan to the city council very soon.
Watch the full press conference, below: