35 new SCMPD officers begin solo patrols on Tuesday - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

35 new SCMPD officers begin solo patrols on Tuesday

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

For the last 16 weeks, 35 new officers have been paired up with other veterans as part of their training. But Tuesday was the first time they’ve been released to patrol on their own.

“We are just doing some community policing. We have new officers that are about to hit the streets,” said an officer talking to residents in one community.

WTOC was the only station around when newly trained Savannah-Chatham Metro Police officers began covering their beats by themselves. Over the last 16 weeks about 35 officers have been assigned to different precincts, including two officers who’ve been training at the Southside precinct.

“Luckily for me, my recruits are ready to be cut loose as we say, ‘assigned to a sole status,’” said SCMPD Capt. Lenny Gunther.

Capt. Gunther says all five of the recruits at his precinct are ready to patrol on their own.  

“Their expectations are very high of me. I’m at the end of my rope so I succeeded,” said SCMPD Patrol Officer Stephanie Cooper.

This is Officer Cooper’s second career. You may remember she was a manager at First Student Bus Company in Savannah a couple of years ago. But when a new bus company took over in 2015, that’s when Cooper decided after 23 years she would change careers because she was tired of not seeing a change in the crime in her community.

“It is bothering. This is my community, this is where I live,” said Cooper.

Instead of waiting for things to change, she decided to help be a part of the change that she wanted to see.  Tuesday was the first day she was allowed to patrol solo at her new beat in the Coffee Bluff area.  

“I think it’s great. It should have happened a long time ago,” said Kenny Edwards, a resident of Savannah.

Cooper patrolled on foot Tuesday, introducing herself to folks in the area. A strategy that the department is pushing in hopes to make the community feel more comfortable in reporting a crime.

“We really want to focus on a personable presence in the community, get to know the community and strengthen our ties with the community,” said Capt. Gunther.

And after eight shootings in just three days, some say the timing couldn’t be better to have more officers on the streets.

“Just seeing that they are out—that’s got to deter them,” said Edwards.

More officers are still in training and could be on the streets as early as November.   

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