Interim Savannah Police chief addresses crime, goals for department

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 10:38 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Interim Savannah Police Chief Lenny Gunther spoke at a third district town hall just a few days into his new role.

Gunther acknowledged that he knows he is coming in with a lot of issues to address.

He made it clear that he’s focused on improving the morale in the department and building a stronger relationship with the community.

He officially assumed his new role after former Chief Roy Minter stepped down.

He has been with the Savannah Police Department for more than 20 years.

“In order to develop trust, the community needs to know us, “ Gunther said. “We’ve got to get out the cars.”

Crime reduction is also at the top of his list especially when the third district had multiple shootings over just a few days last week. To Gunther, addressing crime and deepening community partnerships go hand-in-hand

“We have to just change the mindset of just responding to a call to being responsible. Taking it one step further, asking what else can I do?”

Interim Chief Gunther said they need to own up to mistakes and he’s going to make sure the Savannah Police Department takes accountability.

“We need to be transparent on what we did not do right and what we need to do to make it right and not sweep things under the rug.”

A couple of residents spoke up about what they want to see change as he takes over the department.

One resident said, “we can’t just get lip service because there was a shooting/murder in a neighborhood shortly thereafter and oh we see cars maybe two days, a week later.”

“If we want to talk globally about what the issue was it’s because we’ve lacked on the serving,” said another resident.

WTOC also asked the interim chief to address trust issues some people have about SPD officers with the latest officer involved shooting in Carver Village as an example.

“That did take place. Mr. Lee lost his life and to acknowledge the hurt that’s out there,” said Interim Chief Gunther.

While he agrees he cannot comment on the investigation, he said there is a process that has to be respected.

“The right thing will be done regardless of how investigations turn out.”

Since the City of Savannah bumped up the pay for officers and firefighters, Interim Chief Lenny Gunther also mentioned he’s already seen the morale of SPD officers changing and he expects people to start seeing a difference in the department.

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