For the first time in 16 years the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Dept. is now at full staff. Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin made the announcement Wednesday standing beside the department's newest members.
The fully realized force comes as Savannah faces a murder rate nearly three times what it was last year, its worst year for homicides since 1991.
The dept. has faced severe problems over the past several years with officer retention. In September of 2015 127 positions went unfilled.
Police officials say aggressive recruiting is to account for the now fully staffed force.
The SCMPD rolled out a digital advertising campaign targeting all of Georgia and 2 counties in South Carolina, looking for new recruits. Ads that directed back to a newly designed police website sprung up before YouTube and Yahoo videos.
Dept. spokesperson Michelle Gavin says the application process was also streamlined, going from mail in materials to entirely online.
Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin also requested that the Georgia Public Safety and Training Center allow Savannah-Chatham to have a “special academy” to train officers. Under usual rules an academy takes place every three months. However, a special academy was created last year between three month periods so any interested recruits would not have to wait to begin training.
Lastly, the dept. credits a higher starting wage as an effective incentive. Higher wages went into effect August of last year.
All officers should be done with training and out on the streets by May 2016.