SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – City Hall is launching an investigation into the recent uptick of officer-involved shootings in Savannah.
During his weekly press briefing Tuesday, Mayor Van Johnson said he wants to find out if this year’s four officer-involved shootings are an anomaly or a systemic issue.
“Obviously, this is new to us. This is absolutely unusual,” he said to reporters in city council chambers. “I cannot remember in my time here having these many incidents that occur.”
The mayor says while the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigates Savannah’s latest officer-involved shooting, City Manager Jay Melder and Police Chief Roy Minter will be looking into all four to see if it’s a coincidence or pattern.
“I think that the prudent thing as an organization is to take a hard look at our procedures, our training and our support to ensure that we are at all times acting and performing appropriately within the law, within our certifications and within our procedures,” said Johnson.
Watch Johnson’s full Tuesday press conference:
Monday, News 3 spoke with Alderman Kurtis Purtee about a department-wide survey which he says indicates a morale problem among Savannah Police officers that could be spilling out into the streets.
“And I’m not alleging that this is happening in these shooting situations, but there’s definitely correlation between officer morale and use of force incidences,” Purtee said during a Zoom interview. “If morale is low, use of force incidences are high.”
Tuesday, Johnson responded saying: “I don’t necessarily share that assessment…I think that our police officers get to work and they do what they can. I will tell you that morale — it’s very difficult to be a police officer anywhere right now.”
Johnson says officers just want to serve their community, and also go home at the end of the day. To that end, he joined mayors from across the state to call on Gov. Brian Kemp not to sign Georgia’s constitutional carry bill into law.
“Georgia already has the 17th highest rate of gun deaths in the nation,” the mayor said, “and we cannot afford to further jeopardize our community’s health.”
Despite those efforts by mayors across the state, Kemp did sign the constitutional carry into law Tuesday afternoon. It will allow anyone to carry a loaded gun without having to provide proof of a permit.