Mayor Van Johnson orders review into Savannah Police Department amid protests

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As protests against police brutality continue in Savannah and across the country, Mayor Van Johnson announced he’s taking a hard look at local officers.

The mayor said the city will examine policies and practices at the department and use the data to make improvements. He did make it abundantly clear that this isn’t in response to local incidents of police brutality.

“This is a critical and defining moment of time,” said Johnson, “as Savannah continues to come together to denounce the horrific death of George Floyd.”

The mayor said this is a chance to weed out the “bad apples” and reform policing tactics that do more harm than good.

“We will see where the data leads us and from there we will devise solutions to be able to address whatever we find,” he said.

Johnson said both he and Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter are actively engaging with protestors. He also said demonstrations remain peaceful but wants to remind people that police are not the enemy.

“We know there’s a lot of work to do, but we also understand that there are officers on our streets day in and day out doing good work,” Johnson said.

As Savannah remains a contender to host the Republican National Convention, Johnson said the Savannah Police Department could have their hands full.

He worries it could bring more protesters and a bill the city can’t afford.

“Certainly after COVID-19 our city budgets are severely depleted and I am really concerned about our ability to be able to fund and unfunded mandate like all these individuals coming to town,” said Johnson.

“Sometimes money is not worth everything,” he added.

During Tuesday’s press conference, the mayor announced the city is in phase one of a reopening plan regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sanitation services resumed to their regular schedules.

While city buildings have opened, visitors must follow safety measures. All visitors must wear masks when entering a city building.

Johnson also announced guidelines and safety protocols for funeral services as they resume.

He also advised residents to be prepared for hurricane season. Residents can learn how to be prepared with help from Chatham Emergency Management Agency.

Watch the complete press briefing in the video below.

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