SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah CARES task force has released a dozen recommendations for police reform in the Hostess City.
The task force, which was formed back in July, hasn’t completed its full review but believes there are a number of changes that can be made immediately to better the relationship between the Savannah Police Department and the community.
“Every member on that task force, we knew and we understood that policing has to be reimagined,” said Attorney Diane McLeod, who chairs Savannah CARES. “We also know and we understood as a group, that policing as it currently exists is not working.”
After reviewing SPD’s policies and internal affairs reports, and interviewing Chief Roy Minter and some of his officers, Savannah CARES has issued the following recommendations:
- Write more direct orders for the use of profanity and dehumanizing and discriminatory language
- Require all members to complete de-escalation training, two to three times a year, minimum
- Train a minimum of 20 percent of members in crisis intervention yearly until all are trained
- Immediately appoint two community members to the Use of Force Review Board
- Require an officer involved in a use of force investigation to complete their initial formal statement to investigators before reviewing body camera video
- Explore and possibly implement alternative means of handling calls for service
- Explore the potential of having officers call a complainant prior to their arrival on scene
- Complete all internal investigations within 60 days of its discovery
- Prohibit the use of warning shots completely
- Develop public service announcements or other educational means for its use of force policy and standards
- Prohibit the use of military-style fatigues by all members with the exception of SWAT operations and special operations members
- Explicitly prohibit the use of holds and restraints that restricts the air and blood flow of a person
Mayor Van Johnson says these recommendations aren’t an attack on SPD. Police chief Roy Minter will have time to review every finding and then discuss further action with the task force.
“We can always do better, we need to always strive to do better,” said Minter. “I am sure there are several things in this report that will assist us in becoming a better stronger organization.”
He also wanted add context to the department’s internal investigation policy after McLeod mentioned there were several cases that have been open over a year.
“There is a reason why some of those cases are still outstanding,” said Minter, “I can’t go into that right now, but I just want to make sure people don’t think that there is widespread number of internal affairs reports that are out there that have not been reviewed.”
The next step for Savannah CARES is to complete its review of SPD and schedule meetings with the community before submitting its final report.