JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The Jackson Police Department canceled Friday’s Uniform Crime Report meeting, the second held since JPD decided to end its public COMSTAT meetings amid scrutiny over a 3 On Your Side investigation into the department’s reporting practices.
The impact of the department’s own struggles with transparency also means that Jackson residents have no clear picture of the city’s crime rate, relying instead on what information command staff deems fit to send over social media, limited to individual crimes that the department needs the public’s help in solving.
Last month, when JPD Chief James Davis assembled members of JPD leadership to kick off the department’s first UCR meeting, he told those in the room that the information discussed that morning would be “to the numbers,” giving the impression that his officers wouldn’t stray from the raw data they would be presenting.
Instead, those precinct officers offered vague statements on crime from week to week, sometimes mentioning the specific type of crime, like house burglary, and other times offering percentages with little context.
“Going into week 2, we noticed our property crimes decrease 50 to 60 percent,” said the officer representing Precinct 1. “Week 3, it coincided with week 2.”
3 On Your Side asked JPD Sgt. Roderick Holmes about the lack of specific information immediately after that Feb. 15 meeting, remarking that reporters had actually been given more statistical data during the department’s COMSTAT meetings.
“Well, I can tell you, these are not the old COMSTAT meetings. I don’t know what specific information’s going to be given or not going to be given, unfortunately,” Holmes said, adding that he wasn’t in charge of compiling those statistics.
The change from COMSTAT to UCR meetings came after our 3 On Your Side investigation showed JPD wasn’t being truthful about the safety of its city through inaccurate crime reports.
Our extensive analysis of weekly COMSTAT reports showed lower numbers in certain categories of crime on three specific dates in 2018, which just happened to be the same dates JPD released these reports to the public on social media.
When presented with this information, Davis assured us that the department would take the necessary steps to correct the inaccuracies we found.
Days later, he questioned our own reporting and asked whether 3 On Your Side could prove these claims, despite the fact that our analysis came from his department’s data.
In early February, someone within the department removed the “crime stats” and “crime map" sections from the police department section of the City of Jackson website without warning.
At that time, Davis told us that they would be releasing UCR data to the public, the same data the department sends to the FBI.
Candice Cole, Jackson’s communications director, said in early February the department would start releasing those statistics on the city’s website on the 15th of each month.
Those promises have not yet materialized.
For the second month, JPD has failed to release any UCR reports to the public, whether through meetings or the city’s website.
3 On Your Side reached out to the city and police department to find out why those reports still haven’t been posted online and ask about the reasoning behind cancelling Friday’s meeting.
Cole did not provide an answer for those missing UCR reports.
She also told us she didn’t know why that public meeting was cancelled.