Savannah city leaders increase security measures for Inauguration Day

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Cities across the country are on high alert after the recent violence at the U.S. Capitol. City and state leaders in Georgia said they’re not taking any chances.

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said they are prepared for what could be a week of ‘social unrest.’

“We’re actually calling this inauguration week, not necessarily Inauguration Day,” said Minter.

Although city leaders said there are no known threats, they are increasing security measures and working with state and federal authorities.

Mayor Van Johnson said some enhanced security protocols will be visible and other won’t—adding law enforcement’s plan to monitor the situation for as long as needed. Anyone without already scheduled time off will be on duty and all staff—including detectives—will be required to be in uniform.

Chief Minter said they hope there will be a peaceful transition of power, but their tactics to deal with violent crime are in place as a precautionary measure.

In a press conference on Tuesday Johnson dove into issues that lead to gun violence and steps the city and the Savannah Police Department are taking to combat those.

The three issues included guns introduced into heated arguments or altercations, drug sales and retaliation against witnesses.

The mayor says preliminary numbers show a 33-percent increase in homicides for 2020 compared to 2019.

“Although this is not an excuse for us, I do think that it reflects a phenomenon that is not limited to Savannah,” said Johnson, “we are living in some very strange times.”

Johnson says the value of intel from the public cannot be understated. He says whether it’s violent crime or rioting, the community needs to speak up if they see something suspicious.

“If people see something and they say something,” said Johnson, “the police are able to do better investigative work and things happen.”

You can call Crime Stoppers on their anonymous tipline (912)-234-2020 to make a report.

That increase is a jump of nine more homicides. Johnson explained the number could drop from nine to six due to adjudication.

The mayor says SPD detectives had a clearance rate of 77-percent compared to a national rate of 60-percent.

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter also addressed the violence and discussed preparations for what could be a week of social unrest.

Minter says his force is on high alert. He says since the attacks on the Capitol, intelligence has been the central focus of their operation.

“We’ve got our intelligence center that is up and running and monitoring all local and national level intelligence,” said Minter.

“We have not identified any known credible threats to this area, but we are also not resting on our laurels,” he added.

Minter says they’re also in close communication with the FBI command post in Atlanta.

In Johnson’s weekly COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday morning at City Hall he also shared his frustrations over the vaccine roll out.

The state health department faces issues over strong demand for the vaccine and meeting that demand with their supply.

“I think it’s unfortunate and I think it’s abysmal that Georgia ranks 49th out of 50 states in the number of vaccines administered,” said Mayor Johnson, “I believe we can do better and at the city of Savannah it’s all hands on deck at making it happen.”

Johnson also announced changes to how tests are administered at the Savannah Civic Center.

The Georgia Department of Health has  contracted Mako Medical of North Carolina to handle the testing services. 

The mayor says the change is in an effort to free up medical staff, allowing them to focus on vaccine services.

To register to receive a test at the Savannah Civic Center, individuals must pre-register at covidtestsavannah.com or call 912-230-9744.

Johnson advised there will be no reduction in availability of tests and no out of pocket costs.

City Hall will be illuminated in red and will ring its bells at 5:30 p.m. The community is welcome to join in the event by ringing their own bells and illuminating their own homes in red.

Tuesday, the mayor also spoke about crime and gun violence during the briefing.

Johnson addressed the recent murder arrest linked to a deadly New Year’s morning shooting. 

He also spoke about the shooting death of a 26-year-old over the weekend. Johnson asked the community for assistance in the investigation.

Watch the mayor’s full presser in the video below.

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