Starting last night, Savannah-Chatham police officers hit the streets on foot and on bikes, watching over troubled communities. Foot patrols aren't really new to downtown Savannah. But now all four precincts sent two officers each into Savannah's neighborhoods.
Jimmy Sanders has lived in Paradise Park for 45 years. He's all for extra officers to keep an eye on crime in his neighborhood. "We had...a few break-ins," he told us.
"There's a lot of problems here, that's why we spend a lot of time in this area," said Officer Ryan Justus, on bike patrol.
Since early Monday morning, Officer Justus and his partner have biked all over Savannah's south side. They talk to neighbors, try to solve problems, and sniff out trouble. "Our presence out here shows we are trying to help them," said Justus.
While officers are on bikes in Precinct 4, six other officers will be on foot in Savannah's three other precincts. But police officials say the fight against crime will not be compromised by paying extra attention to city neighborhoods.
"If we couldn't do it, we wouldn't," said Capt. Everette Ragan.
Capt. Ragan says this plan was in place even before the G-8 summit. The city will hire eight new officers to eventually take over the foot and bike patrols. "They'll hire eight more people, and they'll be doing the walking beats," Capt. Ragan said. "It's not hurting us bad right now, but we'll be glad to get them in when we get them in."
"It allows us to do what we are supposed to do," added Officer Justus.
Until new officers are ready for action, the veterans will keep the peace in Jimmy Sanders' neighborhood. "It's good to have someone keeping any eye on it," he said.
The ultimate goal of the police department is to bulk the foot and bike patrol up by the beginning of next year. They hope to have 25 officers walking and biking the streets. Coincidentally, the launch of the foot patrols comes at the same time as this evening's National Night Out events.