Savannah CARES task force to host resident outreach interviews


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Following nationwide push-back against police brutality, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson created a task force in July to evaluate interactions between officers and the community.

The Savannah Citizens Accountability and Review of Emergency Services (CARES) team is hosting interactive meetings with residents to learn more about their relationship with local police.

In September, the committee released a dozen police reform recommendations. According to the deputy chief assistant district attorney, 10 of those 12 suggestions have been fulfilled.

According to Johnson, in 2021, a minimum of 16 hours of de-escalation training will be mandatory for all personnel in the Savannah Police Department (SPD).

To promote engagement with the community, SPD has purchased 18 cell phones for each precinct for officers to call people directly before they respond to a crime scene.

A new remote report center has responded to more than 3,000 non-emergency calls, which gives officers more time to handle emergency situations.

Now, the task force is gathering feedback on contact between citizens and police.

“If it’s a negative encounter that they’ve had, we’d like to hear about it so we can of course make it better,” Deputy Chief Asst. District Attorney and chair of the CARES task force Diane M. McLeod said.

“But if it’s a positive encounter, we would love to hear about it because it may be something that the department can implement department-wide to help the citizens of Savannah,” she added.

The task force will interview participants individually and they will remain anonymous. They will only be used to help in its investigation.

“The intent is to have open and transparent discussions and then provide the responses to Mayor Johnson in a consolidated report,” McLeod said.

Appointments are available:

  • Jan. 12 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Liberty City Community Center, 1401 Mills B. Lane Blvd.
  • Jan. 18 beginning at noon at the W.W. Law Community Center, 900 E. Bolton St.
  • Jan. 26 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Southwest Chatham Library, 14097 Abercorn St.
  • Feb. 2 beginning at noon at the Carver Village Community Center, 905 Collat Ave.
  • Feb. 6 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave.

Make an appointment by emailing or calling (912) 650-7878.

“The committee is eager to meet with community members so that we, and the city, can better understand how our police department is perceived in the community,” McLeod said.

“We look forward to hosting members of the community and only ask that those wishing to speak provide first-hand information of any interactions with the police department,” she added.

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