Savannah mayor speaks out on crime - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah mayor speaks out on crime

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Crime and corruption. Those were the topics of Mayor Edna Jackson's State of the City address that got residents' attention Tuesday night.

Jackson focused on the components of crime: poverty, barriers to employment among the poor, and the challenge of engaging the city's youth.

"One in four people living in poverty is our problem," she told the audience at Savannah's Civic Center.

Jackson said it's the whole city's problem, not just the poor, and not just the City Council.

"We need more jobs, better education, parents raising our kids the right way," she said. 

Jackson fired back at critics of the decision to bring in private investigators from out of state to look into police corruption allegations, calling her critics, "those who are either threatened by change, those seeking power during this transition, or those who are attempting to make money off of this process."

"Pay them no attention," she said.

Like the mayor known for her big smile, big hugs and big flower broaches, Jackson's speech was big on positives.

Nnot everyone was satisfied.

"It wasn't as in-depth as I was thinking," Southside resident Brenda Roberts said. "I wanted to hear, I guess, some more statistics and details."

Other listeners wondered why five months after former police chief Willie Lovett's abrupt retirement, the city hasn't started a search for a permanent chief.

"Our current chief is an interim chief," downtown resident Rolfe Glover said. "And that's always a hard position to make real change from."

The mayor told her audience that City Manager Stephanie Cutter will decide when to start the search and that Cutter wants to finish cleaning house at Metro first, "to leave no stone unturned."

Interim Chief Julie Tolbert said she doesn't want the job but will stay on until a permanent chief is found. Tolbert is ready to move forward, concentrating on policing the streets instead of policing the department.

"We all want to believe that our officers are doing the right thing," she said. "But that's not always the case. And when situations arise where we have to take action, we have to take action."

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