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Savannah Police to get bigger slice of smaller budget

A Savannah Police Department badge.
A Savannah Police Department badge.(WTOC)
Updated: Dec. 18, 2020 at 6:50 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah City Council approved the 2021 budget, but it did come with some questions from members of the public.

Next year’s budget decreased from $425 million last year to $414 million for 2021. However, the Savannah Police Department’s budget will go up next year.

Some citizens raised concerns at the public hearing Friday.

The department’s budget increased by about $4 million. When we spoke with Mayor Johnson about the increase, he told us the council supports police and they’re committed to changing the perspective when it comes to policing, and more money is needed in some areas to do that.

Here’s a look at the numbers. The patrol budget has increased by $1.4 million dollars.

For investigations, there’s about a $1.8 million dollar increase in funding.

The Mayor says there is a need for resources in that unit, especially with the amount of unsolved cases and there is additional focus on solving them.

For training and recruitment for new officers, that’s increased about $270,000.

Mayor Johnson says they want good officers and those who know how to work in a diverse community like Savannah’s.

During Friday’s budget meeting, some residents didn’t like that the department was receiving more funding but Mayor Johnson says he and the council do not support defunding the department.

“I’m fully in support our police department. We need the police department and so the words literally of defunding the police doesn’t really compute to us but what it does mean to us is that we reimagine how policing is done in our community,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

The Mayor says even with the pandemic the city was still able to make substantial gains and help residents and businesses.

He also says they were able to maintain their budget without layoffs, furloughs and raising property taxes as well.

Other increases in the police budget have to do with technology, purchasing vehicles as well as a gun violence program being brought back into the city.

The Mayor says even with the pandemic, the city was still able to make substantial gains, help residents and businesses.

Council will continue to look at the budget in the next year and the Mayor says he’s thankful to council and city staff for the work they put in to approve it.

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