JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Internal emails obtained recently by 3 On Your Side show the Jackson Public Schools' campus enforcement division removed a requirement to track the district’s crimes after our investigation revealed they weren’t following that requirement.
Those emails also paint a picture of a district that refused to answer questions by WLBT about the subject.
Our initial investigation uncovered a rule within the JPS Campus Enforcement Division Standard Operation Procedures Manual that said the deputy chief will “maintain current statistics on crime and other incidents at district sites.”
Upon that discovery, 3 On Your Side requested those records.
“I have checked with [JPS Police] Chief Gerald Jones who advised that his department doesn’t maintain or compile crime statistics although doing so is in the SOP,” JPS district counsel JoAnne Nelson Shepherd wrote in response to that request.
When pressed for the specific reason why JPS didn’t compile those statistics, Shepherd replied that Jones told her he doesn’t have the staff to do so.
After that, 3 On Your Side asked JPS spokesperson Sherwin Johnson to try and get an on-camera response or statement from Jones.
Jones told Johnson that JPS' legal office would be better suited to answer that question initially, even though the information we requested was from his police department.
He then explained to Johnson in detail why those statistics were not kept by his deputy chief.
“The intent of the SOP was to ensure that each Deputy Chief maintains operational and situational awareness as it relates to crime trends and incidents under their purview. This provides a high level of involvement and engagement in the day-to-day operation of our department,” Jones wrote in the April 24 email, obtained through a public records request. “Maintaining current statistics involve simply knowing what’s going on currently in their respective areas and not necessarily a written document as may be implied.”
Essentially Jones told Johnson that a written list of statistics isn’t needed because officers keep track of current crimes mentally.
He also told Johnson that the rules in the district’s standard operation procedures are meant to be flexible.
“They guide the day-to-day operations of an agency and may be changed based on situational needs and manpower allocations at any given time,” Jones continued in the email. “They are not policies but guiding principles.”
Not knowing any of that, 3 On Your Side reached out to Johnson in September to see if JPS campus enforcement was actually following those policies since our initial investigation let the district know they hadn’t been doing so.
Johnson forwarded our question to Jones and then-Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray, and Jones answered.
“The requirement for the maintaining of any statistical data by a Deputy Chief has been removed from our operating procedures,” Jones wrote on Sept. 11., a response 3 On Your Side never would have received without requesting the district’s emails.
Jones' answer also contradicts what he said months earlier.
Initially, he called the crime statistics rule a “guiding principle,” implying that it was something optional and not a requirement.
Now that requirement has been removed after the district found out -- through our investigation -- it wasn’t been followed.