Alderman candidates offer solutions to gang violence

Alderman candidates offer solutions to gang violence

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - The second major debate of the election season in Savannah was sponsored by the Civil Rights Museum, and focused on the mayoral candidates as well as a crowded field of candidates looking for a shot at the Alderman at Large - Post 2 seat.

On Monday WTOC focused on the Mayoral candidates' take on solutions to violent crime.

This time, the Alderman candidates get their shot.

This is not the first rodeo for Clinton Young who has gone after this seat twice before. And his solution to our growing crime problem has not changed.

"This is my third time running," Young said. "When I came out in '07 I said we need prime time foot patrols.  The prime time foot patrol would serve two purposes. You would have the cops on the beat taking back the streets.  Now, I'm from the era where we had parental supervision.  It's 10-o'clock, you know where your children are.  You have a lot of children out in the street.  You can back-door into a curfew with prime time foot patrol.  But we're understaffed."

The president of the local chapter of Al Sharpton's "National Action Network", Alicia Blakely, isn't quite ready to blame gangs for our up-tick in violent crime.

"It's going to take a concerted effort of other agencies, other governmental agencies in order to get this gang violence under control, if in fact, there is gang violence going on," Blakely questioned. "I'm thinking that it just may be personal situations where individuals are just angry with each other.  There's the possibility that there is gang violence but if that is the case then we need to bring other agencies in because obviously what we're doing is not good enough."

Travis Coles manages a local nightclub but believes we need outside help to manager our violent crime problem.

"My specific plan for taking care of gang violence is to reach out to federal and state authorities," believes Coles. "I think that we have a new chief of police.  He's doing his best with a broken department at the moment.  He's doing his best to pick up the pieces where our last chief left off. I don't think we should be too proud to reach out to the FBI as well as the GBI to tackle these issues. They have specific people who are paid to specifically target gang violence and if we can get them in here and irradiate that we may not be seeing shootings as we have in the last few weeks."

Former bank president, Brian Foster, is confident investing in the right tools from cameras to cops can win the day.

"We will go out and bond the money that the city is capable of doing right now," said Foster, "buy 100 police cars, buy 100 cameras for those patrol officers buy all new equipment, put up 4-500 security cameras in a complete system.  And we can do that without any impact on the budget because the city has such a great bond rating, double-A plus, we can do that immediately and use that as a recruiting tool. We need to pay a risk premium and get experienced officers in here.  Because until we are fully staffed we're in a crisis mode."

G. Ling Taylor's insists we leave the solution to gangs and violent crime in Savannah to those who know what they are doing, and then step up ourselves.

"I'm not a policeman," Taylor said. "I've worked with the department of Justice.  I worked with police when I was director of hate crimes.  But I also know you have to give them the necessary resources.  We have to make sure they have what they need to do it.  We have to cooperate with them as parents and people in the community.  We have to step up our game and be responsible."

Savannah State's Joe Steffan said numbers is the only way to change the game in Savannah.

"There are two ways gang problems are addressed," insists Steffen. "One is by having adequate numbers. But second you have to have officer interact with the community and walk and are in the communities. We're short staffed so much now, I gave the analogy the other day that if Georgia had played South Carolina two weekends ago and had nine players on the field and South Carolina has 11, my guess is the result would have been a lot different. And so we're in the same situation here in Savannah.  We're trying to fight crime completely short staffed."

There is no incumbent for the Alderman at Large Post 2 seat. Tom Bordeaux is giving up that seat.

Regardless of who wins the Nov. 3rd election, they will be a newcomer to council.

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