SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) Several candidates vying for the top job in the city of Savannah said while crime statistics may be down it doesn’t mean that people in many city neighborhoods feel safe.
Former state senator Regina Thomas says young people are losing hope and more resources are needed. “We are going to continue to have this problem if we don’t wake up and realize that we are losing a generation,” she said.
Alderman Van Johnson said, “we recognize that we have issues with young people in our community between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.”
Johnson, who represents Savannah’s 1st district, says many young people are struggling in terms of family and school support and are falling victim in some ways to social media. He said crime is a combination of many factors including not being able to see a future for oneself.
“You have to have people who have a sense of life but a sense of hope as well,” said Johnson.
Thomas says poverty, unemployment and a lack of education play a part in crime.
Johnson says there are many underlying factors which society and the city of Savannah need to tackle. He says it’s about priorities and in terms of communities helping themselves, it’s about people in those communities being willing to report crimes.
“Police have their place but we ultimately have to have a community of people that say if I see something I’m saying something,” he told the crowd.
Thomas says there has to be more police involvement however. “We need to be able to build a rapport where people will be able to trust police,” she said.
Thomas said more sensitivity training is needed for police but she also defended police and the challenges they face. “Our police officers put their lives on the line every day and they’re scared, too. We need to have more training,” she said.
Mayor Eddie Deloach and the fourth candidate, Louis Wilson, did not attend Thursday evening.
On Friday, we were able to talk to Deloach who told us that under his watch, crime is down. He said the number of homicides was 48 in 2015 and that dropped to 28 in 2018.
“If you have a family that lost somebody, it means a lot to you to know that there are fewer people dying,” Deloach said. “I feel like we’ve done a lot in the last four years and I feel like we’ve done it for everybody.
But his opponents say not everyone feels like their neighborhoods are receiving attention and a lot is left to do.
“If you keep doing the same thing over and over are not going to get different results,” said Thomas.