Savannah City Council to discuss extended ShotSpotter zone, officer de-escalation training at Thursday meeting

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 5:01 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Thursday, the Savannah City Council will look to extend the city’s ShotSpotter zone, which alerts police about exactly where there has been gunfire.

Police in Savannah use ShotSpotter to respond to a number of shootings, including two already this month.

The council will be asked to approve a purchase of $255,000 to expand the ShotSpotter Zone.

Right now there are four miles covered that the city pays for and additional two miles which is paid for by the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Thursday’s agenda item would expand that coverage area an additional 3.5 miles in the city.

“We’ve talked about this before, this was a goal of the council, when this is complete, we will now have ShotSpotter in every district in our city so that was something we wanted to do,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

ShotSpotter provides officers with the GPS location of the gunfire and how many shots were fired.

The city says it improves the department’s response and evidence collection and includes forensic analysis that can be used during investigations and prosecutions.

The city council will discuss the approval of this addition to ShotSpotter during their regular meeting Thursday at 2 p.m. at City Hall.

Officer involved shootings

This year, there has been four officer involved shootings in Savannah - two of them this month alone.

Thursday, during the city council meeting, council will be asked to approve purchasing a new use of Force Simulator for the police department.

This was already planned, but does come at a time where officer involved shootings are on the rise.

In the last five months there have been six officer involved shootings in Savannah. Officers were not injured in any of the incidents, but five of the suspects were killed as a result of the shooting.

All six of these cases are still under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Once they have been complete, the information will be passed along to the District Attorney’s Office.

Taking a look at the numbers overall in the city of Savannah. In the year 2020, there were two officer involved shootings and last year there were a total of four.

This year, already in April, there are four officer involved shootings in Savannah.

Mayor Van Johnson says it was just coincidental that Thursday they will be discussing training for officers at the council meeting to spend $83,000 on a virtual reality training simulator for use of force and de-escalation.

The mayor says in the past, they have shared this technology with other departments, but as the largest department in the region, it is time to get their own.

Of course, this decision comes at a time when these officer involved shootings are top of mind for the community.

“As we have said before there are a variety of factors that are at play in which they have to make that split second decision and they want to go home at the end of the day, I just hope and pray that they have acted appropriately,” said Mayor Johnson.

The mayor says he is having discussions with the city manager and police chief, taking a hard look at police department procedures. If they do approve the purchase of the simulator, they can then dictate when and how often the officers are training.

That discussion will be taking place Thursday during their regular council meeting at 2 p.m. at City Hall.

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