JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - After two months, Jackson’s police department is now sharing the Capital City’s crime picture online, releasing those February numbers to the public after a 3 On Your Side investigation showed inaccurate statistics had been put out by the department last year on multiple occasions.
Furthermore, a memo obtained exclusively by 3 On Your Side seems to indicate why the department still hasn’t released its January report and lists several reasons why future reports might also be late.
The memo and subsequent release of February numbers comes amid transparency concerns and intense scrutiny from a 3 On Your Side investigation into the validity of the city’s crime statistics.
In the April 3 memo, JPD Chief James Davis told City Councilman Melvin Priester that the police department never posted January’s report because employees with the city’s Information Systems Division were still finalizing it.
He also listed several different reasons why these reports could be delayed going forward, citing manpower and software concerns.
“The Delay (sic) can be in the form of human errors such as reports that are not entered because of manpower shortages in records, precincts (sic) failure to deliver reports timely,” Davis wrote in the memo. “System errors can delay the process such as CISCO going down because it’s an antiquated system. The program developed by Information Systems can delay the process if it is malfunctioning.”
Davis told Priester that only certain personnel can use the program that generates the report, also, and if one of them is out sick, it could also cause a delay.
The Uniform Crime Report, which replaces the department’s COMSTAT reports, now lists more detailed information about fewer types of major crimes and is the same information JPD sends to the FBI each month.
Previously, JPD’s COMSTAT reports would show weekly, monthly, and year-to-date number of ten major crimes, which include aggravated assault, homicide and auto burglary.
Those reports also showed percentages that indicated the change over the same period last year, which allowed anyone to see quickly if that particular crime was increasing or decreasing over the previous year.
In the new UCR reports, more detailed breakdowns of eight main types of crime are listed, which most notably includes the type of weapon used in robberies and assaults.
The UCR listing also accounts for attempted rape, attempted forcible entry and non-aggravated assaults.
Noticeably absent are specific numbers of auto burglaries or carjackings in the reports.
There’s also no percent change column either, though data from the previous year is available, which means the person viewing the reports has to do a little math to see if crime is increasing or not.
The reports also include maps of each precinct with the location of the crimes superimposed, though only main road names are visible and it’s difficult to see some types of crimes listed.
JPD has only held one UCR meeting since transitioning to the new format, and did not present any specific numbers at the first meeting.
Command staff unexpectedly canceled the second meeting, scheduled for March 15.
3 On Your Side asked the city’s director of communications, Candice Cole, and JPD spokesperson Roderick Holmes about the reason for the cancellation, but no reason was given.
In the memo, Davis said going forward, the department will hold its public meetings on the Friday after the UCR data is submitted, which he said should be the 15th of each month. Should a UCR meeting fall on the 15th, that meeting would then be held the following Friday.
In the memo, Davis said overtime concerns could also cause JPD’s UCR meetings to be canceled as well.
“These aforementioned schedule (sic) is contingent upon no delays or interruptions in the UCR process,” Davis wrote.