New initiative aims to keep kids and teenagers from getting involved in crime

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Chatham County Gang Prevention and Intervention Commission is launching a new initiative to help stop teenagers and kids from getting involved in crime.

The commission is starting the 912 Rescue Mission. Members are calling it a “street committee” with the goal to go into neighborhoods around Savannah to stop kids from turning to illegal activity.

“In all the 30-some odd years that I’ve been involved, I think this is the moment that our community has said we are in crisis and it’s time for a rescue,” Rep. Carl Gilliard (D) said.

Rep. Gilliard created the commission in April 2021. He said the program, spearheaded by the intervention subcommittee, is a step in the right direction.

“We have young people in our community who are in urgent need,” co-chair Beverlee Trotter said. “It is our hope to resuscitate these young people, inject life and hope into these neighborhoods they reside in and to increase positive cycles and decrease negative cycles in an effort to curb the acts of youth gun violence.”

Organizers describe the 912 Rescue Mission as a mobile town hall, with community events held in parks, beauty salons and barber shops. Members will engage in conversation with kids, as well as direct them to resources for mental health assistance, employment and education opportunities.

Members said it will take the entire community getting involved to see change. 

“I’m here. I’m ready to find a solution, I’m ready to be the solution, I’m ready to help with the solution. I’m just asking y’all – step up,” Thaddeus Orr said.

In December, the group will submit recommendations for gang prevention and intervention to the county’s legislative delegation. This program is the first phase of a long effort.

“We know that change doesn’t happen at one moment,” Desiree Priest said. “It doesn’t happen today, it doesn’t happen tomorrow but it’s definitely something we can implement and continue to grow daily.”

The 912 Rescue Mission will host its first series of town hall events on Saturday, November 6 from noon to 5 p.m. So far, organizers said six neighborhoods across the city will be participating but they are looking for more. If you’re interested in hosting the event, you can call 912-521-7103.

Commission leaders said similar events will be held quarterly to get feedback from residents.

Rep. Gilliard also said he is planning to file legislation in November that focuses on regulating criminal records for juveniles.

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