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INTERVIEW: Savannah police chief on gangs, crime in the city

Published: Jun. 15, 2021 at 2:34 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Still many unanswered questions four days after a mass shooting in Savannah took the lives of two people and injured six others.

Savannah Police Department Chief Roy Minter discussed that tragic night, crime in the city, and what he says police need from the community.

There is a lot of speculation in the community and neighboring communities about this mass shooting, the motive, the cause, and a lot of people are pointing to gangs.

The chief was asked if Savannah has a gang problem.

“We are seeing gang involvement. I don’t know if I would categorize it as a problem. If you look at the level we’re seeing in this city, some of it may be gang involved, it’s something that deserves a higher level of attention in our community. One of the important things is we need to look at the culture of what’s causing gangs in our community. Once we determine that, what do we do about addressing that culture of gangs in our community? We need to look at everything, some of the root causes of crime we’ve been dealing with for quite some time in Savannah: poverty, blight, education, employment, mentoring, re-entry program. These are some of the things we are looking at a holistic community based approach,” Chief Minter said.

Chief Minter believes Friday night’s shootings stemmed from an incident that happened earlier in the week.

“I believe we probably do have individuals who may have had information they could have provided to us. I believe we would have been able to follow up and maybe been able to prevent what happened on Friday night,” he said.

When asked why people will not come forward, Chief Minter responded, “First thing is fear, fear of retaliation or retribution. I think that’s big. The other thing is this culture of not providing information to the police, not snitching.”

The chief said this sets a dangerous precedent.

“People aren’t letting us know. It’s going to continue. if there’s gang activity and people are not letting us know, it’s going to continue. If there is other criminal activity, if people aren’t willing to bring that information forward and have that discussion with us, it’s only going to continue,” Chief Minter said. “If you don’t want to talk to us for any other reason, please provide us with information for the sake of that 18-month-old infant.”

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