Savannah-Chatham Metro police have seen a 78 percent spike in homicides this year – from 9 as of July 3, 2012 to 16 as of Wednesday.
But there is good news. Metro detectives have made arrests in 12 of those 16 homicides this year. Police say they found the person responsible for 20 of the 27 homicides last year, bringing their case-clearance rate to 74 percent over the past two years. The national average is about 65 percent.
Maj. Larry Branson credits the public and old-fashioned detective work with keeping that clearance rate high.
"It's the people of this community who come to us and talk about when something's going on in their neighborhood, not just when something bad happens but just to let us know about what's going on in the neighborhood," he said. "That's the great thing about policing in Savannah Georgia and Chatham County is this department has a great relationship with its community. There are neighborhoods that will not talk to the police. They're frightened. They're frightened by some of the opportunistic predators who are in their neighborhoods. Those are the folks that we really need to reach out to."
Branson said none of the four unsolved cases from this year have gone cold, that police still are getting leads in one high-profile homicide -- the January shooting death of Savannah State University student Rebecca Foley, who was gunned down in the parking lot of her Southside Savannah apartment.
Police, as always, are stressing the importance of anonymous tips. They say it was precisely those tips that led to an arrest in another high-profile case, the fatal shooting of firefighter Wesley Franklin in 2012.