October 6, 2022

Chatham County District Attorney
Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook-Jones speaking at a NAACP meeting. Credit: Jeffery M. Glover/ The Current GA

Evaluating data for public safety

The Chatham County District Attorney’s office is opening up its case files for an intense examination with the goal of improving prosecution, public safety, and fairness.

That’s according to the Justice Innovation Lab, which is partnering with DA Shalena Cook Jones’ office to undertake the analysis.

Over an 18-month period, the nonprofit will gather insights like:

  • The crimes Chatham County prosecutors spend the most time on
  • The lengths and types of sentences offenders receive
  • Any disparities in race, gender or other factors.

The group recently worked with Charleston, S.C., where they recommended prosecutors there better screen cases they get from police to make sure they don’t waste time on ones with scant evidence.

The Current’s Jake Shore spoke with Justice Innovation Lab’s founder and executive director about the effort and looked into the group’s plans for Chatham County and how they fit into DA Shalena Cook Jones’ agenda for criminal justice prosecution.

Camden County deputy under investigation after January traffic stop turned violent.

GBI investigates traffic stop turned violent

A Camden County woman ran a stop sign in Kingsland on January 16. What started as an ordinary traffic stop with a Camden County Sheriff’s deputy ended with the deputy ramming the woman’s head into a police cruiser, according to dashcam footage.

Now, the deputy is under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The Current confirmed the news with the agency this week and reached out to the Brunswick-area district attorney who requested the investigation a month ago.

The decision came after public pressure from the Camden County chapter of the NAACP, which sounded the alarm about what they saw as a pattern of escalation from the deputy.

You can watch the video of the traffic stop and what led up to the violent encounter.

Screenshot of a federal court filing accusing Daniel Defense of negligence in its marketing to young people.

ICYMI: Coastal GA gunmaker sued

Families of children killed in the Uvalde, Texas, mass school shooting in May filed a wide-ranging lawsuit blaming a number of players, including Coastal Georgia gun manufacturer Daniel Defense, for negligence and failures that led to the shooting.

One of the guns used by the Uvalde shooter was manufactured by Bryan County-based Daniel Defense.

The suit, filed in federal court in Texas last week, specifically blames Daniel Defense for targeting young people not of age with marketing for its assault rifles on social media.

“Much of its heavy social media marketing is on Instagram and Twitter, which are popular with youth. Daniel Defense does not limit or age-restrict access to any of its marketing and freely allows all ages to take in its violence-based content,” the suit alleges.

The suit also blames Daniel Defense for neglecting to conduct any studies into how its weapons are used in mass shootings while collecting $528 million in AR-15 profits last year.

Daniel Defense has not yet responded to the lawsuit. You can read the lawsuit complaint for yourself here.

Police car (Kenny Eliason/Unsplash)

Crime stats arrive with missing data

The FBI dropped its new compilation of crime statistics for 2021, but it’s got some big gaps.

Crime data from police departments of big metro areas like New York City and Los Angeles are missing along with local cities, like Savannah and Brunswick.

Nearly 40% of the country’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies didn’t participate in the FBI’s national crime data collection for this past year. Part of the problem is the FBI retired its old data collection program and replaced it in 2021. Many departments did not send data to the new format.

Savannah Police blamed an aging records management system that couldn’t submit data to the FBI’s new system.

Even with the unreliable data, the new data shows violent crime dropped 1% between 2020 and 2021. The FBI also reported an increase in homicides by 4.3%.

Have a comment, question, or story idea? Email me at jakeshore.thecurrent@gmail.com.

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New partnership opens Chatham County DA case files to data analysis

Chatham County DA Shalena Cook Jones allowing nonprofit Justice Innovation Lab to analyze prosecutor case files with goal of increasing public safety and fairness in court outcomes.

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Camden deputy under GBI investigation for violent traffic stop

Camden County Sheriff Deputy Christi Newman under GBI investigation after January traffic stop in Kingsland GA, where dashcam video showed Newman ramming woman’s head into a police cruiser.

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Daniel Defense CEO says gun industry isn’t responsible for mass shootings

Marty Daniel, the CEO of a Georgia gun manufacturer, testified in front of Congress of Wednesday, as part of an ongoing investigation by lawmakers into what is fueling the country’s high rates of gun violence.

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Jake Shore covers public safety and the courts system in Savannah and Coastal Georgia. He is also a Report for America corps member. Prior to joining The Current, Jake worked for the Island Packet and...