SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Former Savannah-Chatham Metro Police officer Steven Hummel says he resigned in December of 2012 because he says he felt like the department was covering up crimes.
"It seems like they are playing the numbers game. They want to cover up how many crimes are actually happening in Savannah. I can only speak for central precinct because I didn't work in any other area, but everytime a crime happened and a supervisor showed up they would say we don't want to take a crime hit for that, lets write it up a different way. My job was not to make sure the crime stats were low," Hummel said.
Hummel was an officer with SCMPD for two years and says he voiced his concerns to his superiors, but he says nothing was ever done. He says he eventually decided to leave the department after he was told to change facts in a report.
"In one instance, a man pointed a gun at another man and stated he was going to kill him. The man ran off and when I asked the supervisor, he said to write it up as pointing a gun at another, which is a lesser crime. He told me to leave out the part where the man said he was going to kill the other man because that would make it a part one crime," Hummel said.
Hummel also says officers were sometimes told to focus on property crimes, not violent crimes.
"I remember there was a time when we had five people shot in four days and there were also several homes burglarized in Ardsley Park. We were told to focus on the property crimes in Ardsley Park. I'm not saying property crimes aren't important, but as officers we thought the violent crimes were more serious," Hummel said.
Hummel says in another instance he responded to what he called an aggravated assault, but was told to change the report.
"One of the higher ups told me to basically change the story so it didn't seem like the man was trying to kill his brother. Another officer and I laughed because we thought the supervisor was joking. But he said he was serious and we had to write it up like that," Hummel said.
Hummel says he was in the Army for six years prior to working at SCMPD. He says he always wanted to become a police officer, but became discouraged after working in Savannah.
"I am not a disgruntled officer. I was disgruntled with the way Savannah police works. I would never work for SCMPD again and I would never refer anyone to work for that department," Hummel said.
Hummel says he was always in good standing with the department. He says he does not blame other officers or his direct supervisors, rather he places the blame on people in higher positions.
"I tried to reach out to the higher ups at the department but got no results. So I reached out to city council," Hummel said.
Alderman Tony Thomas confirmed to WTOC on Thursday that he has spoken to Hummel over the phone and that Hummel expressed operational problems with the department.
Thomas says he told Hummel to detail his complaints in writing.
WTOC contacted SCMPD on Thursday for comment. Police Chief Willie Lovett released this statement:
Allegations have been made by several city aldermen alluding that members of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department have altered or refused to take crime reports for the purpose of reducing crime numbers.
No information has been provided by anyone to this department to allow us to determine the veracity of these allegations.
Neither I nor any member of the command staff of this department has ever encouraged officers to avoid taking reports or reducing severity of those reports. That is a federal crime and would not be tolerated.
A request has been made through our city manager for all information concerning these allegations to be provided to this department for investigation. Once it is received, an independent law enforcement agency will be asked to look into them.
Until this investigation is complete, it would be improper and premature for me or any member of this department to make any further comment.