SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Savannah Mayor Van Johnson weighed in on the search for the city’s next police chief, saying it’s not a job for the faint of heart.

His remarks came after another weekend of gun violence in the Hostess City and the nation.

“Obviously, on the aft end of our Independence Day celebration we’re still in bondage by gun violence across our country,” Johnson said.

Starting his weekly press briefing with remarks about Monday’s deadly mass shooting in a Chicago suburb — carried out with a legally purchased gun — the mayor quickly brought his remarks back to Savannah’s weekend gun violence, and a deadly shooting last Friday on Meadows Avenune.

“A homicide victim, 21 year-old male that I happened to know from birth, who happened to be a son of someone I knew since college,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, in our country, we’re going to have to balance the right to bear arms with the right not to get shot.”

Johnson will be at the White House Monday when President Joe Biden signs bipartisan gun reform into law, and plans to lobby for additional action that he thinks should include an assault weapons ban.

“Cities on the ground need help. We need help, we need help, we need help,” Johnson said. “And so, if we’re not going to get it from our state then we need to get it from our federal government.”

The mayor also touched on the search for the city’s next top cop, after Chief Roy Minter announced he’s stepping down at the end of the month.

“It has to be a mixture of knowledge, skills and abilities of policing as a profession,” Johnson said. “It can be a great police chief, but they have to get Savannah, and they have to be able to withstand Savannah. Savannah can be a hard gig.”

And despite criticism from other city leaders, the mayor praised Minter’s efforts over the last four years.

“The hours that I know I’ve spent particularly in community events, and at events and on scenes in the middle of the night,” Johnson said. “You know, the fact was he was there.” 

The mayor also announced a partnership with Georgia Power to conduct a citywide lighting audit to determine where more lights are needed. It’s an effort to help deter crime and part of the “Light Up Savannah” initiative.