CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Savannah and Chatham County are once again setting a record of sorts when it comes to homicides—this time for good reason.
It has been 38 days since our last homicide. That's the highest number of days between homicides in nearly two years.
The chief hopes eventually 38 days between homicides won't surprise you. After two of the deadliest years in recent memory when it comes to murders in Chatham County, Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Jack Lumpkin said the fruits of his department's labor are finally paying off.
Crime scenes were becoming all too common in Savannah. There were multiple killings in some weeks and more than 100 victims in just two years. The numbers put Savannah and Chatham County way above the national murder rate.
"One homicide is too many, but the rate ought to get back to the national average. That's where our main, Savannah hasn't had that in decades," said Lumpkin.
Tasked with changing a culture and staffing a severely undermanned department, Lumpkin said the work is nowhere near done when it comes to fighting Savannah's violent crime epidemic.
"That's the norm we want and that's the norm that we are working towards. It takes improvement in staffing, improvement in technology, improvement in management and supervision, it's a cultural change," said Lumpkin.
Lumpkin said improving lagging technology and additional officers will only help in preventing more homicides.
When it comes to these streets, the chief is not only fighting crime. He's also fighting the perception of crime. We asked people when they thought the last homicide was. I got a range of answers.
"Probably a week," said Diana Hernandez.
"I think two weeks ago, maybe," added Sean Rhoden.
Those same people gave a range of answers when I told them how long it had been.
"That's good. Better than my guess," said Rhoden.
"Oh my gosh, that's horrible," said Karen Eskew.
"It makes me feel good for the men and women who are on the streets actually completing the work. My job is to try to get them those resources and assets that they need to do their job," said Lumpkin.
It's a job the chief says will continue to reap positive benefits moving forward.
Over the last two years, there were a couple stretches of 25 or 30 days between homicides. The chief credited that to their new intelligence-led policing. In that, they target these violent criminals before they commit crimes.
The chief is still asking the council and county commission for 100 additional officers. There are currently 70 or so in training.
The chief also said bringing the department up to current times with technology is necessary. Officers have worked 11 homicides this year compared to 15 in the same time frame last year.