20 Savannah civic and government leaders, as well as community and criminal justice partners, went to New York recently to meet with the founder of Operation Ceasefire.

Armstrong Lecturer Helps Fight Violent Crime in Savannah

(Aug. 7, 2015) — Dr. Maxine Bryant, a lecturer in Armstrong's Department of Criminal Justice, Social and Political Science, recently traveled to New York with 20 Savannah community and criminal justice partners to meet with the founder of Operation Ceasefire, criminologist David M. Kennedy.

Operation Ceasefire is a national policing initiative Savannah is implementing under the leadership of Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department Chief Joseph H. Lumpkin, Sr.

“The major thrust with bringing Operation Ceasefire to Savannah is reducing gun violence and violent crime,” Bryant explains. “We're looking at ways to create a safer community.”

Bryant was selected by Chief Lumpkin to be a part of Operation Ceasefire in Savannah because of her extensive experience in criminal justice, corrections and offender restoration programs.

Her professional experience includes opening a federal halfway house for nonviolent offenders in Saginaw, Mich., serving as the director of re-entry for the mayor's office in Indianapolis and acting as the re-entry coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office of Southern Indiana. She also contracted with Weed and Seed, a federal program that weeds out crime and drugs in declining neighborhoods, and participated in Project Safe Neighborhood, a federal crime and gun violence reduction program.

Since moving to Savannah, Bryant has participated in the Georgia Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative and the Georgia U.S. Attorney's Office re-entry roundtable. In May of this year, she also organized and held a conference at Armstrong that encouraged newly released prisoners to re-engage with the community through work, education and the use of local re-entry focused service providers.

Working with Operation Ceasefire is just one more way Bryant works to engage the political and criminal justice infrastructure in Savannah.

“Traveling to New York was an educational experience,” she says. “I was able to learn from the founder of Operation Ceasefire and contrast that education with my experience, which allowed me to identify some ways we can make Savannah's Ceasefire strategy a little bit stronger.”

Operation Ceasefire is not an end-all solution, she explains, but rather a strategy that can be used in conjunction with other initiatives to end gun violence and violent crime. Through a grassroots effort working with community partners, as well as outreach to individuals and groups who have been identified as the most serious of offenders, Operation Ceasefire hopes to makes Savannah a stronger community.

“My involvement sends the message that Armstrong genuinely cares about the welfare of Savannah,” she says. “We want to be involved in grassroots efforts that reduce crime and make our city a safer place.”