New details reveal city officials asked for help weeks before Orange Crush Event

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 4:03 PM EDT|Updated: May. 8, 2023 at 6:15 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - WTOC has learned new details about communication between city officials on the island and other law enforcement agencies ahead of Orange Crush weekend.

It appears city officials didn’t start asking for help until just weeks before the event based on emails.

And they were cautious about how much extra help they requested and also didn’t get everything they asked for.

In an early April email chain between Tybee Island police chief Tiffany Hayes and Sgt. Joseph Curlee with the Georgia State Patrol, Hayes says: “We are planning on heavy traffic coming on the island on April 22 and 23 for Orange Crush. Would it be possible to have a unit or two help with traffic during these dates?

GSP Sgt. Curlee responded saying: “The nighthawks will be doing a crime suppression detail with Savannah PD on the 22 and are off on the 23, so we won’t be available.”

A week later, on April 12, Tybee city manager Shawn Gillen messaged Chief Hayes about getting help ahead of Orange Crush saying: “If the Sheriff is still bugging you, you can let him know that we are bound by an agreement with the US Justice Department.”

Hayes responded that the sheriff would provide the city with two jailers and a van ahead of the event.

Gillen responded: “He has to provide it for memorial day and July 4 as well. At a minimum.”

The city has expressed that they cannot treat Orange Crush differently than other events because the city could get in trouble for profiling.

Later that morning, Tybee Mayor Shirley Sessions sent an email to city officials titled “So annoying, yet expected.”

It was followed by a link to a Savannah Morning News article about Orange Crush.

Assistant Chief of Police Bertram Whitley responded saying an Orange Crush organizer, “went to the media after our meeting with him.”

A separate email Tybee Fire Chief Jeremy Kendrick shows in addition to extra help from Savannah Fire. Tybee Police received assistance from GSP and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

It also shows the entire Tybee Island Police Department was scheduled to be on-duty Saturday, April 22 the first full day of Orange Crush.

WTOC will continue to look into how Orange Crush was planned for and handled.

We’ll bring you updates as we learn more.