Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter will resign, focus on U.S. Marshal confirmation

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter speaks at Mayor Van Johnson's weekly media briefing.

Credit: Will Peebles

Combined ShapeCaption
Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter speaks at Mayor Van Johnson's weekly media briefing.

Credit: Will Peebles

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter has resigned from his post to focus on the confirmation process for his nomination to serve as U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Georgia. Minter’s last day with the Savannah Police Department (SPD) will be July 29. The announcement was made Thursday afternoon.

Minter was hired as chief in Aug. 2018 and replaced former Chief Joseph Lumpkin.

Savannah City Manager Jay Melder has appointed Assistant Chief Lenny Gunther to serve as interim police chief effective July 30, 2022. Chief Gunther has served the department since 2001. The city will undertake a process to hire a permanent police chief.

“Team Savannah is proud of Chief Minter and proud of his nomination to serve at the federal level,” Melder said in a press release.

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Credit: Kyunnie Shuman/City of Savannah

Credit: Kyunnie Shuman/City of Savannah

“We are grateful for his four years of service and his steadfast leadership of our police department. Chief Minter is the definition of a professional police chief, and I thank him for his tireless service to the City of Savannah, our residents, businesses, and visitors. I wish him well in the confirmation process and in all future endeavors, and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity.”

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said the city had been discussing the timeline for Minter's transition since the May announcement.

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Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter talks during a past press conference at Formey Early Learning Center.

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter talks during a past press conference at Formey Early Learning Center.

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Combined ShapeCaption
Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter talks during a past press conference at Formey Early Learning Center.

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

“Chief Minter has been a consummate professional and his legacy will live in his historic promotions of women within our ranks and the technological and programmatic advances that will keep the Savannah Police Department the premier municipal law enforcement agency in Georgia. Our city will forever be grateful for his efforts during some of the most challenging times in our history,” Johnson said.

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Before joining the Savannah police, Minter served as police chief in Peoria, Arizona, from 2011 to May 2018. From 2008-2011, Minter was the police chief in Denton, Texas. Prior to his appointment in Denton, Minter spent 15 years with the Aurora, Colorado, Police Department, where he held several positions.

“Being Savannah’s police chief has been an honor and I look forward to the potential opportunity to continue my service to this community and all of southeast Georgia,” Minter said in a statement.

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Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter speaks at a press conference in front of the Chatham County Courthouse Wednesday.

Credit: Steve Bisson/savannahnow.com

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter speaks at a press conference in front of the Chatham County Courthouse Wednesday.

Credit: Steve Bisson/savannahnow.com

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Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter speaks at a press conference in front of the Chatham County Courthouse Wednesday.

Credit: Steve Bisson/savannahnow.com

Credit: Steve Bisson/savannahnow.com

“I am thankful for the experience these last four years. And while I am departing my role as police chief to focus on the confirmation process for my federal nomination, I remain thankful for the opportunities afforded to me by Team Savannah, the City Manager and our Mayor and City Council.”

Minter was hired by former Savannah City Manager Rob Hernandez under a three year contract. Minter's contract expired Aug. 31, 2021 and was not extended.

The contract had already expired by the time current Savannah City Manager Jay Melder started the job in September. Earlier this year Melder told the Savannah Morning News that the absence of a contract had no bearing on Minter's employment.

“There was no need from an HR perspective or from a legal perspective to enter into any new contract because that's simply not how employment works for people who are hired and work under my authority. So there was no need to revisit that,” Melder told the Savannah Morning News in April.

On Friday, Saudi Arai Lee, 31, was shot and killed by an SPD officer near Carver Village. On Wednesday, religious leaders called into question the training of officers in the field and called on Minter to resign.

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Elder James Johnson with the Racial Justice Network, who was at the press conference, said there were too many police shootings under Minter‘s watch and he is concerned about the outgoing chief potentially working for the U.S. Marshal Service. “I’ll do all I can to stop that because his record is not good in Savannah,” he said.

Elder Johnson cited Savannah's high crime rate and police shortage as reasons for concern, and for the entire department to be reformed.

Officer complaints

In April 2020, 77 SPD officers filed a joint complaint with the city's Office of Human Resources "to address a series of complaints against Chief Minter and his failures to abide by both the City of Savannah's employee standards and leadership principles."

The city then conducted an investigation into the nature of those complaints through its conflict resolution program.

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Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter talks with Savannah Chatham County Public Schools Campus Police Chief Terry Enoch during an active shooter drill.

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter talks with Savannah Chatham County Public Schools Campus Police Chief Terry Enoch during an active shooter drill.

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

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Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter talks with Savannah Chatham County Public Schools Campus Police Chief Terry Enoch during an active shooter drill.

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

That process revealed that Minter gutted the independent internal affairs process, limited training and promotional opportunities, and misled the public and media on staffing shortages.

Issues surfaced again recently after the city conducted a survey of SPD officers late last year. Nearly two-thirds, or 60.3% of the 137 Savannah police officers surveyed, said they were dissatisfied with the leadership of the command staff.

Officers also raised concerns with the level of training they received; dissatisfaction with communication and transparency from the SPD command staff and staffing. The department is nearly 100 officers short.

Katie Nussbaum is the city and county government reporter for the Savannah Morning News. Contact her at knussbaum@savannahnow.com. Twitter: KnussSMN

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter will resign, focus on U.S. Marshal confirmation


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