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Savannah Police’s Community Service Officer Program having positive impact on department

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 5:20 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A year ago this month, Savannah Police began a revamped version of their Community Service Officer Program, putting non-sworn SPD staff on the streets to handle non-emergency calls.

It’s a program that’s been a success over the past year, according to the department. There’s one Community Service Officer assigned to each Savannah Police precinct, plus one additional officer, who help link the police department to the community in a number of ways.

One of the advantages of SPD’s Community Service Officer Program is they help free up officers needing to respond to more urgent, or emergency calls, by tackling non-emergency calls.

“Officers, sometimes they need to respond to really serious situations,” said SPD Community Service Officer Modjeska Pleasant-Murray.

That’s especially important for a department looking to fill 60 officer vacancies. Those non-emergency calls, often time-consuming, can range from taking a report on property being stolen from around someone’s house, to a shoplifting call.

“It can be as short as 15 minutes, to an hour and a half, depending on whether someone is prepared with their information or if someone’s just calling the police in a reactionary way.”

Another advantage to the program is it’s established a familiar connection between the department and community.

“It’s easier to get the information, to get the evidence, because they know me. They feel comfortable with handing me stuff, and I’m like the middle person, getting them with a specific officer, or sergeant, or detective if need be,” said SPD Community Service Officer Nayirah Williams.

Officer Williams says she often gets to see situations resolved, like missing persons cases or keeping someone from falling victim to a scam, and the gratitude that follows.

“It’s just the thank you, that’s the most rewarding, when they tell you they’re glad that you came, glad that you were able to help and put their mind at ease,” said Williams.

The department says the program has been a success over the past year, and that they’re currently looking to expand it.

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