Savannah Neighborhood Office of Safety and Engagement Director Settles Into New Role

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) — The City of Savannah has a new office focused solely on reducing crime and making neighborhoods safer.

It’s called the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.

The WTOC spoke with the newly hired manager about the difference he hopes to make in the weeks and months ahead in Savannah.

The creation of the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is the evolution of the End Gun Violence program here in Savannah, taking a holistic approach to addressing violence that involves the active engagement of Savannah citizens.

The Savannah City Council has set aside $1 million to support the project. And this week, John M. Bush, Jr. began in his new office leadership role.

These funds will provide community grants to organizations to support credible messengers, violence interrupters, conflict management, after-school activities, youth sports, counseling and mentoring activities that engage the most vulnerable young people in alternatives to violence and crime. More information about the ONSE Community Grant Program will be available this spring.

Bush said engagement is a particularly important part of his office.

“It’s kind of like having a puzzle of a thousand pieces, and if you have your piece back…and we finish the puzzle and I put it on the wall…no one will notice the beauty of the picture. They’re going to notice that piece that you didn’t put in. So if we can inspire every citizen to put that piece of the puzzle together, to put that beautiful picture together, we’ll all have a wonderful neighborhood to live in,” Bush, Jr. said.

Bush said he would draw on his experience of community engagement that he trained alongside former directors of the End Gun Violence initiative, seeking not only to empower those who might walk a path dangerous a way out, but a way forward.

“We don’t just want to pull you out so you can sit on the sidewalk, we want to pull you out so you can participate. Engagement is key, engage every citizen. Whether small or large, large or small. We want to engage all our citizens to make a better savannah.

Once the office is fully staffed, the Bush team will work to develop a citywide network of violence prevention and response services and track community progress at the future.

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