SAVANNAH — Residents of Savannah could notice Community Service Officers responding to police calls.
Community Service Officers are non-sworn Savannah Police Department staff members who can ride non-emergency calls and take reports.
The program is not new to Savannah, but has bene revamped. Sgt. Dana Purvis coordinated the revamping of this program after it was disbanded in 2017.
“When Chief Roy Minter came to our department, he inquired about the program and asked to bring it back,” said Purvis. “They are here to assist officers in a non-emergency capacity such as responding to a civil matter. This allows our officers to deal with more pertinent calls and for them to be more proactive in the community.”
Once City Council approved the program, the hiring process began. After three of the now four officers graduated from the police department’s Professional Development Center in June, they started hands-on training by riding to non-emergency calls with sworn officers.
“I took this opportunity as a way to get back to what I did in corrections-speaking with people often, helping them with problems, and just interacting with the community, which is what I enjoy most about this job,” said Community Service Officer Nayirah Williams of the Southside Precinct.
“It starts with trust. It starts with respect,” said Community Service Officer Sheena King of Central Precinct. “When you give that respect, they will understand that we’re not here to hurt them but to help them. It allows us to show them that our police officers are here to help as well.”
Each of the officers has been assigned to a precinct and will ride non-emergency calls such as entering autos and criminal damage to property calls.
The community service officers are not armed officers.