Juveniles are responsible for many robberies, burglaries, and violent drug turf disputes in Savannah, Ga., says the Savannah Morning News. Interim Chief Willie Lovett and Mayor Otis Johnson say last week’s National Summit on Violent Crime in Washington, D.C. reinforced that “we are not alone in Savannah in this upsurge in juvenile crime,” Johnson said. “We see this as the front end of an epidemic, if you will, of violence that seems to be gripping many parts of the country,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum, which sponsored the meeting. “The good news is that we’re much more sensitive to picking up on these trends quicker.”
One crime-fighting program that interests the interim chief is a truancy initiative that combines city police with campus officers and school counselors to track AWOL students. The team makes daily visits to student homes, monitors where they congregate, and issues court summons to parents of children who miss more than three un-excused days of school. “If they are young and out of school, they’re going to find something to do,” Lovett said. “With high truancy rates come high property crime rates.” Savannah officials plan to work with organizations such as the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to solicit more national dollars for local anti-crime programs. “All these dollars are going to foreign countries to rebuild when, in essence, we have a war going on right here in our own country that needs to be fought,” Lovett said.