BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The Glynn County Police Department is working to make the community safer in the wake of several recent shootings and violent crimes.
GCPD is announcing "Operation Safe Glynn."
Chief of Police Jacques Battiste and other Glynn County public safety agencies made the announcement at a news conference at 11 a.m. Thursday in Selden Park.
He said the police department is re-pledging itself to do more community policing. In 2021, there were five homicides in Glynn county. Police said two of the cases were in December, along with 46 gun related incidents. Plus, the police department recorded nearly 300 shots fired calls. 291, to be exact. Battiste said the public should be able to live their lives without the fear of violence. To the police chief, Operation Safe Glynn is about being proactive rather than reactive.
"If we can heal as a department. I know we can help the community heal as a whole," Battiste said.
The newly sworn police chief mentioned how the police department will participate in town halls and officers will be required to go through implicit biased training. Addressing mental health is another priority to Battiste. He told First Coast News the police department will track its progress every six months. He said progress does not necessarily mean more arrests.
"We're gonna be engaging, talking to the public more, getting people to understand we're here as part of your community and our community," the police chief added.
Following the news conference, Battiste released the following statement:
"As Chief of Police for Glynn County it is my sworn duty to ensure a safe Glynn and provide every possible resource to not only battle law-breaking but also to detect, deter and prevent criminal activity. During 2021, Glynn County experienced many crimes of concern, including over 300 entering autos; 1,046 thefts; over 1,100 weapon offenses, and almost 400 drug related crimes, just to name a few. In addition, we received almost 300 calls from our residents regarding shots fired in Glynn County, to be more specific it was around 291 calls. We had 5 homicides in 2021, and in December alone 2 homicides were committed and 46 gun related incidents, none of which can be tolerated.
One of those senseless homicides took place in this park where we stand today and a young man, a father, who had not even begun to live his best life was lost due to gun violence. This park meant for happiness, meant for times of joy, and meant for family instead was the scene of tragedy. This public park, near the banks of the Turtle River, was the site of The Selden Normal and Industrial Institute. Considered one of the finest black educational facilities of its time, Selden Institute opened in 1903 and pioneered in the intermediate education of black residents throughout the coastal area. Although the school may have closed its doors in 1933, this approximately 35-acre site continues to be a popular gathering place for family reunions, picnics and recreation, including swimming, basketball and soccer, and it’s our intent that Glynn County and our many visitors have the opportunity to continue those activities without the fear of violence.
As Chief, I will not accept unlawful behavior and will not allow violent criminals to prey on others. Our community should not accept nor tolerate the loss of any of our young people to the absurd violence from a few. Therefore, I made the decision to immediately establish a new initiative that will proactively and reactively respond to these senseless shootings and other violent crimes across Glynn County. Today, with your help and support, we begin Operation Safe Glynn.
To ensure coordination across the county we have asked all other Glynn County public safety agencies to join us in this effort. The Glynn County Police Department, as lead agency, along with, Brunswick Police, Glynn County Sheriff’s Office, Glynn County Schools Police, College of Coastal Georgia Police, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, our federal partners at the FBI and the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney as well as city and county fire and public works, codes enforcement and utilities will serve as vital partners in this effort. We cannot sit idly by and allow our citizens to live in fear nor will we fail to act. In recognizing an extremely vital piece in this effort, we will become more focused on our proactive community engagement efforts, which will include but not be limited to, strategic community partnerships and outreach efforts.
Operation Safe Glynn will utilize a new definition of community policing through a strategy aimed at achieving more effective and efficient crime control, reduced fear of crime, improved quality of life, improved police services and police legitimacy through a proactive reliance on community resources that seeks to change crime-causing conditions. This definition assumes a need for greater accountability of us, the individual police officers and your police department, greater public share in decision-making and greater concern for civil rights and liberties. It is time that we consistently walk the walk, in partnership with our community.
We will tailor our efforts based on the needs of the citizens of Glynn County, using data-driven, problem-solving policing. There must be accountability for those that commit these violent acts, but we understand that we cannot arrest our way out of every problem nor should we, what we can do is create options for our officers to combat crime most effectively and for our citizens to have a better quality of life.
We will achieve these results using our CORE mission (Community-Outreach-Resources-and-Engagement) as the basis. Our officers will become more invested, as this is our home as well. We have begun efforts to get more involved in mentoring programs, we will engage the community with frequent town halls and other civic activities, as well as implementing enforcement efforts.
Violent crime causes hurt and suffering with long lasting and far-reaching effects. The Glynn County Police Department will work closely with our partners across the Golden Isles to focus on addressing the root causes of violence to ensure a safe Glynn for all. We remain committed to ensuring individuals involved in criminal activity are pursued and held accountable through working collaboratively with the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney, and just as important, we feel accountability will also come from our efforts to build trusted relationships throughout the Glynn County community. Operation Safe Glynn is a community centered effort, and the success of this initiative will depend on our community partnerships we are committed to maintaining through our engagement efforts. That said, if the community is aware of something, it’s important that you let us know, because together, we are Operation Safe Glynn."
The move is in response to "numerous shootings and violent crimes across our community," a news release says. Police will discuss their mission of community outreach resources and engagement, or CORE, and detail an outline of data-driven problem solving police model to address the needs of the community and provide for a safer Glynn County, the release says.
One of the recent acts of violence, a deadly shooting last month in Selden Park, left an 18-year-old dead. At that time, Battiste said the police department would soon implement additional measures to fight criminal behavior, and create a safer space for the community's young people.
Police are also asking any witnesses to the deadly shooting submit any photos or videos they have from the incident. You can do that by clicking here.