Savannah mayor gives update on search for City Manager, new task force in weekly news conference

Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 3:56 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah Mayor Van Johnson held his weekly news conference Tuesday morning where he touched on a number of topics.

New task force

It’s a new initiative designed to tackle violent crimes. Mayor Johnson is extending an invitation to regional partners to not only identify criminals, but interfere and bring indictments.

“This is a regional approach to a national problem,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

A new task force was proposed by Mayor Johnson to address violent crimes. While the mayor has signed a letter to the president, spoken with senators and called on parents to address gun violence, he feels this will be different. The task force will bring together law enforcement leaders not only in Chatham County but also beyond.

“We talk on a regular basis I think this is an opportunity for us to kind of formalize that and make sure that you know we’re all exchanging information on a regular basis and we’re getting that information out as fast as we can and coordinating operations also,” said Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter.

In addition to law enforcement, they are looking to talk with area district attorneys, council members, school districts and more for a wholistic approach.

“We will rely on the expertise of our chiefs and our law enforcement professionals to develop the engagement protocols, the city and county managers will help to operationalize the partnerships based on the specific issues happening in their communities and the city councils and the county commissions and the school boards will execute the necessary governmental agreements to support the work,” said Mayor Johnson.

The mayor says the goal is to not only identify violent criminals, share intelligence and information, but also to interfere with criminal activity and build quality cases that lead to indictments.

“This is not one where you will see this, this, this, that, what you will see ultimately is for us to remove violent folks from all of our communities,” said Mayor Johnson.

Savannah residents say they are hopeful this new regional task force will help reduce violent crimes.

“I think it will help and I see a great need for that and I think the more people work together the better outcome we will have,” said Savannah resident Jan Lucik.

“I think anything helps I think whatever we can do to uh ya know combat whatever crimes we’re encountering will be positive thing for the city and for all the residents,” said Savannah resident Billy Griffin.

The mayor says this is not a Savannah initiative, rather an invitation to begin the conversation with all those interested in changing the narrative on violent crime. Savannah Police and other partners did host a community engagement event at River Pointe 1 last week where the mass shooting occurred more than a week ago.

Mayor Johnson says other conversations like this will happen throughout the city this summer to combat violent crimes.

City Manager search

Mayor Van Johnson gave an update on the search for a new City Manager.

The three finalists will be in the Hostess City this weekend for final interviews.

This includes current Assistant Manager Heath Lloyd, Sheryl Long, Assistant City Manager for the city of Cincinnati, and Jay Melder, Assistant City Administrator of Washington DC. We now have a better idea of what they’ll be up to this weekend for those interviews.

“The candidates will be in town Friday and Saturday with members of council and community panels. council members have appointed citizen and business representatives to conduct interviews with the finalists,” said Mayor Johnson.

Mayor Johnson says after City Council gets the feedback from the panelists, he hopes they can reach an unanimous decision within the next two weeks.

Fourth of July

With the fourth of July just two weeks away we asked Mayor Van Johnson about Savannah’s protocols for celebrations. He said he’s confident in the safety protocols because of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration every year.

“Without discussing any particular safety and security protocols. Our city will be safe, we will protect to the extent we can, people acting responsibly,” said Mayor Johnson.

You can watch the full news conference below:

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