SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - We’re getting a closer look at a specialized patrol within the Savannah Police Department that you might not know about.
Anytime you park in one of the city’s five public parking garages, your car is under the watchful eyes of SPD’s Downtown Directed Patrol. It’s an eight officer staff with two sergeants who patrol these garages 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that’s their primary mission. But that’s not all they do.
“We don’t want to be known as the ‘garage patrol.’ We’re an enforcement unit downtown from River Street all the way to Gaston Street,” said Sgt. Eugene Solomon, Downtown Directed Patrol.
Solomon says the scope of the patrol’s duties extends beyond the five city-owned public garages, including traffic control, assisting other patrol units, and engaging in community policing.
“That police presence is great. They want to see the police, and we also assist them as well if they need anything from parking and going to the stairwell or elevator,” Solomon said.
Solomon explained, “One of our main concerns are homeless people camping out inside of the garages.”
Sgt. Solomon said typically officers will find people and escort them out if they’re camping out in the garages, in stairwells for example. Repeat offenders can be charged with criminal trespass.
But the sergeant added enforcement doesn’t stop there.
“We have a lot of people exercising in the garage, which also causes hazards when you’re running and jogging inside the parking garages and people backing up, which causes a hazard to the City of Savannah.”
There’s also the parking enforcement side of the job that the Downtown Directed Patrol takes on.
“There’s multiple violations from expired tags, to compact vehicle parking...is one of our main focuses. It’s a problem in the garage, especially, even back-ins. There are certain areas that are not designed for the vehicle to back in to,” said Solomon.
The sergeant says the Whitaker and Liberty Street garages typically keep the officers of the Downtown Directed Patrol the busiest, especially during large events like the upcoming Saint Patrick’s Day holiday.
The Liberty Street garage is a very busy garage during any event at the Civic Center. We have to do traffic control there as well,” said Solomon.
The patrol and their resources are funded by Savannah’s Parking Services, which is an enterprise fund.
Sgt. Solomon says they’re also wanting officers within the department to consider joining their ranks because of how demanding the 24/7 patrol of these structures can be on what resources they have.