SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's being called a "game changer" to violent crime.
That's how Savannah-Chatham Metro Police are describing their new initiative, End Gun Violence: Step Forward.
At a news conference Wednesday, federal and local prosecutors, along with law enforcement, revealed the shocking steps they are taking to put an end to the constant violent crime.
They've spent the last couple of months collecting, collaborating and analyzing all of the crime data and now investigators have identified a specific group of people who got their final warning Tuesday. Some of those criminals, who are already serving probation, were required to attend a closed door meeting Wednesday, where they heard from federal prosecutors who said they can either get their lives on the right track or the next time they break the law, they will be federally prosecuted.
Which means there's no such thing as probation. You will serve your entire sentence in a federal prison, outside of the state of Georgia, without any outside communication. Investigators realize these criminals are not threatened by this local judicial process so they are taking it to the extreme.
"If you are involved in a shooting or a homicide, we're not just going to look at you, we are going to look at who you're associated. We are going to look at who they are associated with. We are going to focus on those people who are criminal actors, and we are going to take steps towards each and every individual that we put in a group," said Detective Alan Sammons, SCMPD.
Tuesday's meeting also included officials in the community, including the Tourism Leadership Council.
Tourism Leadership Council Executive Director Michael Owens was among those invited. His concerns about the city's safety have continued to grow along with his concerns about how this will impact tourism.
He's attended numerous crime meetings with local law enforcement, but he says this meeting was nothing like any others he's ever been to. The biggest difference, the attitude to tackling the problem has changed.
"We're all really into saying 'well this is the problem here and this is why this happened there and that's not getting us anywhere'. We're spinning our wheels and our children are dying as a result of it. So starting last night, we're going to talk about the future and what we're going to do to fix it," said Tourism Leadership Council Michael Owens.
Trusting the process is key here, not only for you, the citizen of Savannah, but for your elected officials.
Obviously, Mayor-elect Eddie DeLoach is inheriting a lot of big projects. This one being on the forefront and he's not waiting until January to dive into addressing the issues.
WTOC caught up with Deloach Wednesday who says he attended that closed door meeting where federal prosecutors warned criminals involved in these violent crimes that they could face federal consequences if they do not change their behavior. DeLoach believes that this initiative is a game changer and promises to provide whatever kind of support to Chief Lumpkin and the police department that they need to make sure these efforts make a difference.
"Any tools that we can provide for him and the police officers, we want to make sure we get in front of him and if we give him the right tools. He's going to make the results we need in the community," said DeLoach.
It's not clear how long it will take to start seeing results with this initiative. It may depend on how fast they get the message out to the violent criminals who are still on the street. You will be prosecuted on the federal level.