Savannah leaders bring back program to help community policing

A Savannah Police Department badge.
A Savannah Police Department badge.(WTOC)
Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 9:53 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - With an increase in homicides in Savannah last year, city leaders are looking for ways to stop gun violence.

The Savannah Impact Program (SIP) is back. It’s designed to reach out to the youth, re-engage people on probation with the community and prevent them from returning to a life of crime.

You may remember the city stopped funding the Savannah Impact Program in 2015. But it, along with others, were approved by city council in the 2021 budget last December.

Savannah Police Lt. Timothy Lewis is leading the charge when it comes to re-instating the program.

“We don’t want the community to look at the probationers as some type of virus to the community. But they’ve done their time, they’ve served their time and they want to be productive again. We’re going to try to build that bridge again, so they don’t feel fear when they see someone that re-enters into the community,” Lt. Lewis said.

SIP is a partnership between Savannah Police, juvenile probation, and parole. It aims to provide intense supervision, job readiness, mental health resources and more for at-risk youth and high-risk offenders throughout the area.

“If they’re on a street corner, we educate them. We’re not here to just to take you to jail. We’re here to get you to do better and when they go to jail, and they come back out. We’re here for you so you can hit the reset button and start over again,” Lt. Lewis said.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson served on council when the program was created and was heavily involved during its run. He’s excited the city was able to bring it back and says it’s needed right now.

“When we talk about re-imagining the police and talk about different forms of policing, this was something that actually worked. It was an absolute necessity. The necessity is there that we re-engage this process. I’m glad that we are on our way to making it happen,” Mayor Johnson said.

Lt. Lewis also says Savannah is one of the many areas across the country with programs like Savannah Impact. SPD plans on specifically focusing on community policing with theirs.

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