Women are prisoners in their own neighborhood

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Yamacraw village is known as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Savannah.

But according to Savannah Chatham Metro Police, most of the suspects and victims don't live there.

"Drug sales drive a lot of the crime in Yamacraw. People come here to sell, and people come here to buy," Captain Mike Wilkins said.

According to police, more than 12 percent of the Downtown Precinct's violent crimes so far this year have been reported in Yamacraw.

"Historically, Yamacraw has been a place where criminal activity has taken place. So there is comfort here in doing that," Captain Wilkins said.

Yamacraw mainly consists of a large housing complex managed by the Housing Authority of Savannah.

Most of the tenants are young women and their children.

"It bothers me that the people who live in Yamacraw are victims of a stigma. I would like to see that change," Housing Authoirty Executive Director Earline Davis said.

Davis says the perception is that the people who live in the complex are committing the crimes. But police say that's simply not the case and the residents are basically hostages in their own neighborhood.

"We've got to make residents feel secure in their neighborhood because if they don't feel secure here, then honestly they aren't going to talk to police about what they see," Captain Wilkins said.

Residents say they have felt safer in recent years, but still don't feel comfortable going to police.

"If I see something and it doesn't have anything to do with me, then I don't get involved. I stay in my house," Darshae Jasper said.

Jasper says it is too risky to try and help police and she keeps her children inside. But she says things are improving.

"Years ago Yamacraw was really terrible, but it has gotten better," Jasper said.

SCMPD has assigned officers to the public housing enforcement unit to work with members of the neighborhood and the Savannah Housing Authority.

They are also attempting to re-establish the neighborhood watch.

"Yamacraw is a prime hot spot for us and the residents there deserve the same level of service we provide elsewhere," Captain Wilkins said.

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