SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson says Savannah’s violent crime problem is a public health issue.

At his weekly press conference Tuesday, Johnson said the city is implementing new violence reduction strategies in hopes of limiting violent crime in the Hostess City.

Some of those new strategies include keeping Savannah’s youth engaged through various summer programs and mobilizing local ministers to respond to instances of violence in the community.

Meanwhile, the Savannah Police Department wants to provide local resources to address trauma and mental health.

“We’ve always thought of violence…violence equals police – we’ve tried that. We’ve tried that and it does not work,” Johnson said. “We have to be able to change hearts, we have to be able to change minds, we have to change behavior, and that’s not the function or the role of police.”

The mayor said moving forward, it will take a holistic approach to limit violent crime.

Watch the mayor’s full press conference:

“This is bigger than a police department,” Johnson said, “and if we’re looking at crime reduction, violence reduction, if we’re looking at it just through the lens of policing, then we have totally missed the boat.

“It’s much bigger, it is a public health issue and we’re looking at that, and it requires a whole of community approach.”

In the wake of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Johnson said he wants to see lawmakers push through a new bipartisan gun deal. He said red flag laws, an enhanced review process for buyers under the age of 21 and closing the so-called boyfriend loophole are critical.

“No one wants to be in a situation where you’re the location of the next mass shooting. I think we can protect the Second Amendment and protect second graders as well,” Johnson continued. “It’s clear we have to do something.”