SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Community organizations are coming together to take a stand against crime in Savannah.

While the Savannah Police Department reports an 8% decrease in violent crime in the last year, officers still reported to more than 6,000 crimes in 2021, according to department data.

On Thursday evening, organizations gathered to hold “Conversations We Need to Have… In Between the Lines of Crime.” Jay Jones, former Chatham County Commissioner, helped organize the event and said he’s been wanting to hold something like it for almost five years now.

“A lot of times we have conversations in silos,” Jones said. “It’s time to put away the silos and have a collective conversation so we can collectively understand what crime looks like, what we can do to fix the conditions of it and what we can do to make sure we hold those accountable who can be partners to change the narrative.”

Jones explained those who commit crimes often do it for survival. Living conditions, wages and access to food are just a few factors that can leave someone in that situation.

Community members at Thursday’s meeting said they were also concerned about the role job security, access to childcare and elected officials play in preventing crime.

But it’s not a simple or overnight fix. Jones said combating crime also requires taking a look at systemic issues in society that can further feed into the problem.

“There are more African-Americans tied to this problem because there are more African-Americans tied to unemployment,” he said. “There are more African-Americans looking for housing, there are more African-Americans looking to get out of the situation they’re living in and the conditions they’re in to move into a brighter situation.”

Some of the sponsoring organizations include the city’s new Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, 100 Black Men of Savannah and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute. Jones believes those organizations, the public and elected officials can work together to find a solution — ultimately to improve the lives of all residents.

“I’m born and bred here, raised here in this community,” he said. “I can see this community thrive because I’ve been to this community when it was a thriving community when I grew up. So I think we just need to take the conditions – not look at the past, what’s bad – but lets forge a path of solutions that move the narrative forward.”

For the next six months, Jones said the plan is to hold this style meeting on the fourth Thursday of every month. Each one will focus on a different factor that causes crimes.

The meetings are planned to take place at 6 p.m. on the third floor of Con-Ed Building at 714 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.