Former Charleston Police Chief at Crime Forum - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/27/06

Former Charleston Police Chief at Crime Forum

Reuben Greenberg Reuben Greenberg

What will it take to make the streets of Savannah safe? Today local leaders brought in someone who may be able to help find some solutions to a crime problem: former Charleston police chief Reuben Greenberg is speaking at a crime forum.

The meeting started about 5pm and includes members of Save our Savannah, city and county leaders, and US Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA Dist. 1). It was scheduled to last at least an hour.

They came out to listen to the man who fought Charleston's crime problem and try to put some his ideas into motion here.

Shootings, rapes, muggings, and murders are not uncommon in Savannah. And not too long ago, Charleston, South Carolina, was dealing with a similar crime problem.

Greenberg led the assault on Charleston crime for 23 years and says cutting crime means keeping criminals behind bars. "It didn't make a difference who it was," he said. "All persons convicted of various types of violent crimes in our community, then we were opposed to their parole."

He made sure violent criminals stayed in prison as long as possible. And he made sure criminals stayed out of public housing communities in the downtown area. "You can't stay here, you'll have to live someplace else," he said. "We don't want you in our public housing and we got rid of them."

Savannah-Chatham police chief Willie Lovett says those are great ideas--in fact he's been working on cleaning up public housing and targeting repeat offenders since long before Greenberg was invited to town. "I realize that's a problem, and I guess now they'll take notice of someone else who said it," Chief Lovett told us.

Lovett says Savannah also needs to be a little cautious when comparing our town to Charleston. Savannah is bigger, and not split into to separate cities like Charleston and North Charleston.

"The cities are so different in terms of geography and lot of other things," Chief Lovett said. "They talk about us and Charleston being alike and they're not. If you compare North Charleston and Savannah, then I think you'll get a truer picture of what it's like."

Lovett says Savannah needs to have confidence in his officers and they'll get the job done.

Greenberg was invited to speak tonight not by the mayor or the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, but by Congressman Kingston.

Greenberg told us he wasn't aware of Savannah's specific crime problems. He says he's just here to talk about what worked for Charleston. What Savannah's citizens choose to do with the information is up to them.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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