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Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 11:14pm

Savannah Mayor Announces 5 Steps to Reduce Crime

Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson is announcing a five-step plan designed to reduce crime in Savannah.

The mayor made the announcement Wednesday during the state of the city address.

Savannah had 32 homicides in 2014.

“Three shootings a week is nothing for us to be proud of,” Jackson said. She then addressed Savannah’s changing crime trends.

“We don’t have a crack cocaine war on our streets today like we did in the ‘90’s…What we do have is persistent, generational crime occurring in the same neighborhoods, and same families year after year.”

Hiring Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Chief Jack Lumpkin served as step one of the initiative.

Step two is filling the 70 vacancies on the police force. To assist in recruitment of new officers, the city is conducting a salary and classification study to potentially increase officer pay.

The department suffered high turnover while former Chief Willie Lovett held the position. Lovett was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison last week after being convicted of several crimes including extortion.

Step three is targeting violent crime by implementing Operation Ceasefire, a crime-reduction model pioneered in other cities.

In step four, Jackson pleaded with county officials to continue negotiations about the future of the joint city-county police department.

She said crime in the county has been cut in half since the departments merged in 2005 and said the city has sacrificed in past negotiations to maintain the partnership.

“But we simply cannot agree to their insistence that we handcuff our officers and prevent them from crossing the city-county line,” Jackson said.

City officials rejected the last merger amendment presented by the county due to disagreements on policing boundaries and funding. She also praised the implementation of new police technologies including body cameras.

Step five calls for “better education, better jobs, and better training.”

Jackson said high poverty rates continue to hinder the reduction of crime, despite being a focus of last year's State of the City address.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: A protester presented a child's coffin near the end of the speech. A city spokesman says it was not part of the mayor's presentation.