City of Savannah introduces new task force to review use of force policy

July 1, 2020 at 4:19 PM EDT - Updated July 1 at 7:08 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah’s new task force to review public safety policies, like use of force guidelines for the police department, met Wednesday to talk about their goals moving forward.

The task force is called Savannah CARES, which stands for Citizens Accountability and Review of Emergency Services.

The task force will have about 90 to 100 days, which they’re already in the process right now, to form a comprehensive report based on testimonials from the community with their interactions with police, and also data from the police department.

Community feedback sessions will be formed in the coming weeks, and ask residents to give in detail their experiences with police, not their perceptions according to Savannah Mayor Van Johnson. They also won’t review arrests, and focus mainly on how residents were treated by officers.

“This is not, and I repeat, this is not an attack on the police department. This is an opportunity for us to hear and see and review through this current lens that we’re facing in this very critical point in our history,” explained Mayor Johnson.

The police will also have data from an annual report that uses information from internal investigations thanks to new software implemented about a year ago.

Eventually, that annual report will be available online for everyone to see.

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said, “It won’t specifically name the officers, but it will list specific incidents and list the number of times we’ve used force. It will list what type of force that we used.”

Chief Minter said the software, called IA Pro, is easier to use and access for supervisors and more accurate than what they’ve had in the past.

As far as the actual Savannah CARES task force, they’re made up of community members nominated by City Council.

“We didn’t want politicians or law enforcement involved specifically, because we want people to be honest and open. So they’re going to ask, we’ll create sessions across the City, we want it to be accessible to where people live, of course socially distance, where people will be able to come in and share their experience, not their perception. Their experience,” Mayor Johnson said.

The task force facts and findings will be shared with the city manager and police leadership to then help form future policies.

Here’s a list of all on the Savannah CARES task force:

  • Attorney Diane Morrell McLeod, chair
  • Dawn Baker
  • Attorney James Blackburn
  • Willie Brooks
  • Rev. Katie Callaway
  • Attorney Michael Edwards
  • Kenneth Glover
  • Michael Johnson
  • Dr. Larinda King
  • Cpl. Sharif Lockett
  • Anthony Maben
  • Pastor Ricardo Manuel
  • David McDonald
  • Dr. Marie Miller
  • Pam Miller
  • David Minor
  • Jim Morekis
  • Eugene Priester
  • Natavia Sanders
  • Attorney Abda Quillian

Photo: WTOC

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