Chief Lovett calls Savannah City Manager's comments bad timing - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Chief Lovett calls city manager's comments bad timing

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Chief Lovett Chief Lovett

It was one week ago Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Willie Lovett faced some tough questions from, not only from Savannah City Council, the acting city manager.

There was some tension in the room and Chief Lovett didn't leave the meeting last week in a good mood.

He left quick and he was not happy.

The chief had laid out reasons why he needed 65 new officers for his department, some of the officers would be used for a Juvenile Crime Unit and others for a new street drug unit. It would cost a few million dollars as the city finalizes it's 2013 budget.

As council offered their own crime fighting options and ideas, acting city manager Stephanie Cutter made the comment to the chief if he did not get what he was looking for not to blame crime on a lack of funding from the city.

Chief Lovett told WTOC this week he was annoyed but has had time to think about what Cutter meant and her statement about department heads being held accountable for extra funding they request. 

"We have to monitor progress. We have to monitor impact," Cutter said last week.

"I thought it was out of context at the time. We are always held accountable for what we do," Lovett told WTOC. "Overall, I didn't take offense after I thought about it."

That was this week.

Last week, Chief Lovett told council this is the first time he has asked for more personnel and he told me he knows the department needs more officers.

This series of budget presentations all came on the heels of the Coastal Empire Fair shootings and a number of high profile murder cases. Lovett presented information on why he needed 65 new officers.

Alderman Van Johnson told WTOC he stood by his statement during the meeting about why the department "can't arrest their way out of a crime problem." Rather than more officers, Johnson suggested using smarter policing and other tactics.

Chief Lovett says he's confident more officers will make a difference and have the desired  impact.

"She's absolutely right," Lovett said of Cutter. "We should be held accountable. I just thought the timing was bad."

Right before the interview, the chief and the city manager were talking city business and  seemed cordial.

Council also offered up other crime fighting options like a 100 most wanted list. Lovett said he is standing by his request for more officers.

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