As we approach Savannah's municipal election Nov. 3, the Savannah Morning News has been talking with the candidates for the City Council and Mayor. The two candidates for District 4, Julian Miller and incumbent Mary Ellen Sprague, talked about crime and the city's future.
On managing police:
"The first thing is to address the way the city handles the police department. Politics get in the way. If you look at the budget. They actually budget like 900 project logs that the police department does. Those are inquiries, usually from City Council. Officers have to stop what they are doing and go answer a question about the way they did their work."
On reducing crime:
"The [End Gun Violence: Step Forward, formerly Operation Ceasefire] program could be a good program. But we don't have the cops to do it. And we want police officers to get out of the cars and walk up to porches. I don't know any police officers who wouldn't love to do that, but they're working four hours overtime almost every day and they're running from one call to another. They don't have time to get out of the car."
On Savannah's future:
"If you consider the city government as a business, it needs to have a plan. You would never open a business without a business plan. We need to have that. We tend to plan hodge podge. The community needs to get together and decide what we are going to be."
Mary Ellen Sprague
On police vacancies:
"I mean we were aware of it, but the public wasn't screaming because the crime numbers were going down. It wasn't until last year when the crime rate started going up that the people started voicing concerns about the number of police officers.
Now, I believe having more officers is a good thing. But I also believe that if the only thing we do is increase the number of officers, we're still going to have a crime problem."
On preventing crime:
"Most of the kids that commit or become members of gangs make that decision in middle school, which means we have to get to the kids, the boys particularly in middle school and ninth grade, and make sure there is a strong person in their life that is going to send them in the right direction."
On helping Savannah's kids:
"Right now we fund things like Boy Scout programs. We fund things like Frank Callen Boys & GIrls Club Savannah. The program like we had this summer, the pre-apprentice program giving them jobs. I think finding part-time jobs is really important."