Officials say crime is under control despite the rapid growth to Pooler — and they intend to keep it that way.
“It’s been peacefully quiet in Pooler,” said Pooler Police Chief Mark Revenew last week.
But there are still some concerns in the West Chatham city. Nestled between Interstate 95 and Interstate 16, the city has become a popular stop for commuters and transient guests. Some of those transient guests choose to make their stay in Pooler a permanent one, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
And more people inside the city limits spurs an opportunity for criminal activity. The majority of crimes in Pooler have included prostitution and child victimization, speeding, driving under the influence and other traffic violations.
“When you look at Pooler, we get 70,000 cars a day going down I-95, and we get 30,000 a day going down 16,” Revenew said. “We have 11,000 Gulfstream workers pass through for lunch. Our transient population is huge.”
Growth and centralization
In 2010, about 19,000 people called Pooler home, according to the U.S Census Bureau. By 2015, the city’s population increased 21.1 percent to 23,133 residents.
It’s a wave of rapid growth that brought a slew of new hotels, restaurants, retail shops, automobile dealerships and medical facilities and spurred a new 51,500-square-foot city hall building and matching municipal complex.
“Look at how the city of Pooler and how it’s grown — we needed (the city hall) to grow,” Mayor Mike Lamb said in a March 31 Savannah Morning News article. “We needed to do something, not just for a quick fix but for the next 50, 100 years.”
City officials and other west Chatham dignitaries broke ground on the facility in July 2015. And about two years later, the new three-story city hall and adjoining municipal courtroom was completed, outfitted with offices for city and a new location for the city police department staffed with about 50 officers.
The police department’s headquarters had been located in shopping centers for three decades. But with the city rapidly growing, it was time for things to change, Revenew said.
“A lot of people don’t realize that it was strategically decided to put us central to the city (here at the new city hall),” he said. “We have new Pooler with the Parkway, semi-new Pooler with the Pine Barren area and Old Pooler. So this puts us in a central location…. Plus it makes us more efficient. If I need something from, say, finance I just walk upstairs. It gives us secured parking and it looks professional. It makes our evidence room that more secure. And it’s easier for city leaders to come to the department if they need anything. The communication is so much more streamlined.”
With a large transient population passing in and out of the city, it’s easy for crime to make its way to Pooler, according to Revenew.
“People all flock into Savannah to…