SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - There has been no shortage of violent crime in Savannah in the past year.
Some of that crime happening in high traffic, popular areas frequented by both locals and tourists alike. Savannah-Chatham Metro Police are responding to try and keep Savannah's image from taking a tourism hit.
Three shootings come to mind over the past several months including a shooting that left five injured in Ellis Square, one injured in a drive-by shooting near Collins Quarter and one killed in a shooting in City Market.
Despite there being vacancies in the department, police have beefed up patrols and security in the City Market and entertainment areas. SCMPD will use officers from other precincts and place them downtown during the weekends. They hope this will not only keep people safe but also give people a peace of mind while they are out enjoying themselves.
Police say this will not take away officers from other precincts or neighborhoods. SCMPD is not pulling officers away, they are simply paying several officers overtime to help patrol the City Market area.
"So, what we are doing is taking officers from the different precincts, but we are not shorting the other shifts. These are officers that are assigned to other precincts that we are bringing into the downtown area. This will happen mostly for the weekends just for that officer visibility presence," said Major Larry Branson, SCMPD.
This will also allow police to respond to a crisis much faster.
"We have to protect the crown jewel of Savannah's tourism industry. I think people feel much safer when they see police out and about," said Maj. Branson. "I feel the public feels safer when they see the police are present. You have to think about this, if we cut off the head of our tourism, if we make so people are afraid to come to the city, the entire county suffers because of the tourism dollars. That's our number one draw in this community."