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Mayor, Council, address gun violence

City Council held an impromptu meeting Monday morning in response to Savannah’s eight shootings in the past seven days.

Mayor Edna Jackson, Alderman Mary Osborne, and Chief of Police Julie Tolbert each addressed the media before allowing questions.

After voicing her displeasure with the recent gun violence, Jackson discussed the implementation of Operation Ceasefire. Modeled after similar initiatives in other communities, the operation sets out to provide alternatives to the streets using both public and private resources.

“We will use churches, neighborhood associations, police officers, and nonprofits to watch these risky residents like a hawk,” Jackson said, stressing the importance of productive after-school programs for at-risk youth.

Jackson emphasized parents’ role in keeping their kids off the streets and considered reinstating the citywide curfew – kids have to be home by 10 on the weekdays and by midnight on weekends. She also broached the topic of gun control, saying, “It is much too easy to get guns in our community. Those who want to put more guns on our street are out of touch with the reality of crime today.”

But above all, the point of the meeting was to urge the community to cooperate with the police force.

“The police can’t do it by themselves,” said Osborne, whose jurisdiction bore the brunt of the shootings. “These crimes are very spontaneous, uncontrollable by the police.”

Tolbert agreed with Osborne, saying that the community has to support the police in order for gun violence to stop. In other communities where initiatives like Operation Ceasefire have been implemented, she said, citizens were willing to cooperate with and turn over information to the police.

“They actually support one another,” Tolbert said. “In our community, we run into a problem on a regular basis with victims cooperating with the police.”

Each speaker suggested that citizen involvement was key to solving and eventually ending the gun violence in Savannah, but noted that the police would not be able to do it all.

“We solve as many crimes as we can,” said Tolbert.