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32 arrested in Savannah cop crackdown

Corey Dickstein/ Morris News Service
Police make arrest in Savannah operation
Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 7:55 AM
Last updated 6:36 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Robert Douglas Morgan chose the wrong night to try to run from the law.



The 29-year-old passenger in a battered, blue-gray Oldsmobile ignored a police officer’s demand he stay in the vehicle Thursday evening, choosing instead to sprint past half-a-dozen cops toward freedom.

But for Morgan, who scampered about half a block from the gas station at Victory Drive and Waters Avenue where the car was pulled over, there was no freedom to be found.

“I knew as soon as he opened that door he was going to run,” said police Sgt. Chris Hewitt, who was among the officers to nab Morgan within minutes in the parking lot of the Blessed Sacrament Church just across Victory. “He wasn’t going to get away, though.”

That’s because of the massive police force operating throughout Chatham County Thursday evening during the metro police-headed, multi-agency special operation dubbed Total Focus. It’s designed to saturate crime-troubled areas and prevent criminal activity across Savannah and Chatham County.

Including Morgan, police arrested 32 suspects, issued 143 citations, conducted 67 probation compliance checks and checked on 13 sex offenders during the two-night operation.

“About once a month we come out and do these special operations,” said police Maj. Richard Zapal, Savannah-Chatham’s patrol south commander. “It not only lets the citizens know we’re out here, but it also lets the

criminals know that we’re out here. It keeps them on their toes, and we try to keep down crime by doing this. It’s mostly about visibility ... and it shows that Metro can really do its job.”

The police major, who said operations like Total Focus have been run in Savannah for more than a decade, believes his officers interrupted crimes Thursday night before they could happen.

Arresting Morgan and the Oldsmobile 88’s two other occupants — 40-year-old Joseph Maurice Hamilton and 41-year-old Lawrence Sheppard Jr. — that evening put three felons acting suspiciously behind bars.

Police saw the Oldsmobile pull into two convenience stores where its occupants checked out the front and back of each store.

The suspicious activity earned Morgan, Sheppard and Hamilton a tail in the form of a plain-clothes officer in an unmarked car. After learning the vehicle’s registration was expired, marked units were given the go-ahead to initiate a traffic stop, just as Sheppard pulled into the third gas station.

After apprehending Morgan, who dropped a pistol later determined to be stolen, and placing Sheppard and Hamilton in custody, officers found marijuana and gloves inside the vehicle, said Capt. John Best, Islands Precinct commander.

All three suspects were discovered to be felons on probation, Best said.

“Everyone in that car is a convicted felon,” Best said. “We have some really hard working officers out here who know what we’re looking for. We followed them, we interdicted them and we got them off the street.

“We’re interrupting their night so that they can’t interrupt the night of somebody who is law-abiding.”

Morgan was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, obstruction and theft by receiving. Sheppard, who has a criminal history that includes convictions of armed robbery, forgery and obstruction of a law enforcement officer, was charged with operating a vehicle without a license plate and marijuana possession.

The third occupant, Hamilton, convicted of drug charges, obstruction and possession of a firearm by convicted felon, was charged with marijuana possession.

“The idea of Total Focus is to prevent crime,” Zapal said. “We do this by finding those who have been charged with crimes and getting them off the streets and presenting a presence that would discourage illegal activity. In a sense, we are taking the enforcement to them rather than reacting to the crimes they may commit.

“We are fairly certain we interrupted several robberies in the planning stages Thursday night. That was a huge achievement. I have thanked and congratulated all participants in the operation.”

Comments (10) Add comment
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nocnoc
49787
Points
nocnoc 01/14/14 - 08:36 am
6
5
It is the kind of results we want

but it raises other questions also.

galaxygrl
1350
Points
galaxygrl 01/14/14 - 09:47 am
12
1
Cops

I thought 32 officers had been arrested in Savannah. The headline needs a little work.

my.voice
5183
Points
my.voice 01/14/14 - 09:49 am
7
1
I would re-title this to a

I would re-title this to a crackdown, not a cop crackdown. We know the cops crackdown, but I thought this was a crackdown on cops.

soapy_725
44164
Points
soapy_725 01/14/14 - 09:53 am
0
0
ARC needs to go to Savannah for some "Bench Marking" skills
Unpublished

ARC needs to go to Savannah for some "Bench Marking" skills

itsanotherday1
48435
Points
itsanotherday1 01/14/14 - 09:57 am
7
2
'Tree, are you reading this?

'Tree, are you reading this? This is a much more effective enforcement of public safety than dragnet checkpoints.

JRC2024
10600
Points
JRC2024 01/14/14 - 10:17 am
6
2
I thought the same thing

I thought the same thing itsanotherday. I would rather have the people who would steal and break into homes arrested than someone with an expired tag or drivers license.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 01/14/14 - 11:13 am
5
1
Good job by the police, please let them write the headline, A/C
Unpublished

Bad headline, good job by the police. To all those who bemoan the use of check points, officers have to have “probable cause” to do their job. A tag or license is just the thing they need to see to discover that the person in question is the one that robbed your house. Next we must raise awareness of Judges who turn these criminal loose and get them off the bench.

myfather15
57307
Points
myfather15 01/14/14 - 11:48 am
7
1
Yes, from the headline, I

Yes, from the headline, I thought this was a crackdown on cops as well. Was thinking Savannah has to be the most corrupt force in the world!! They need to change this headline.

itsanotherday1
48435
Points
itsanotherday1 01/14/14 - 03:09 pm
4
2
The point is redneck, that

The point is redneck, that when the cops are ganged up at checkpoints, they can't be observing and nabbing the REAL bad guys. Out of hundreds or thousands screened at checkpoints, how many REAL criminals are caught in the net vs those who are merrily doing their dirty work because of low/no police presence in the neighborhoods?

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 01/14/14 - 03:16 pm
5
1
Great work

This is the kind of community law enforcement that NYC used to cut violent crime by 50% in the 1990's.

willie Lee
423
Points
willie Lee 01/14/14 - 08:35 pm
2
2
No MF!
Unpublished

Present company excluded, and speaking from personal experience in handing out the envelopes, I don't think anywhere could be more corrupt than Aiken and Richmond counties.

myfather15
57307
Points
myfather15 01/15/14 - 05:52 am
1
1
itsanotherday

"The point is redneck, that when the cops are ganged up at checkpoints, they can't be observing and nabbing the REAL bad guys."

Do you consider a drunk who killed an entire family a "REAL" bad guy? Because that has to be the way you look at checkpoints. There is a distinct possibility the drunk stopped in that roadcheck could travel another 5 miles, swerve over the center line and strike a family head on, killing all of them.

Cops can walk and chew gum at the same time!! While you're seeing that roadblock, there are many more elsewhere, beating the streets.

Graymare
3810
Points
Graymare 01/15/14 - 07:32 am
0
0
Isn't anything proofread

Isn't anything proofread before it's published? Doesn't the boss check what is going into print?

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