JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Deadly violence in the Capital City appears to be accelerating despite police department strategies to combat it, according to an analysis of homicide data for 2020.
Of the city’s 88 homicides this year, 38 have taken place over the last ten weeks.
Jackson Police Dept. spokesperson Sam Brown told 3 On Your Side earlier this month that the agency continues to utilize Operation Safe Streets, where officers patrol high crime areas with blue lights to deter crime.
Killings, however, appear to be relatively unaffected by the department’s efforts over the last three months, according to individual reports from JPD that 3 On Your Side uses to track homicides over time.
Brown also said 45 percent of this year’s killings were between people who knew each other and domestic disputes.
When reached for comment, a city spokesperson said the opposite, that most killings in the city were between people who knew each other.
After 3 On Your Side told the city about the conflicting information, the spokesperson said the city had data that was two weeks behind JPD’s and said the two entities would work to resolve that as they draft a comprehensive strategy to address the violent crime in the city, adding the matter is extremely important and will take more than law enforcement to effectively address this problem.
Those deadly acts also hit home for families already reeling from losing a loved one to violence, like Patricia Sidney, whose brother was killed in April.
“It’s just a hurting feeling, you know, for us to watch on TV that other families are going through the same things that we’re going through, so I don’t know. I just don’t know, but something needs to be done," Sidney said.
Her brother, 47-year-old Tracey Hatten, died less than a week after being shot after a dispute across the street that didn’t even involve him.
Family members said Hatten had heard the gunfire erupt and tried to get his family inside before he was shot.
“He was a momma’s boy. He just was a sweet child. I never had any problems with him. I loved him, we loved him, but I know God loved him more,” said Hatten’s mother, Everlyn Wilson.
Wilson and her daughter empathize with the other 87 families in the Capital City robbed of a loved one. They also want cooperative efforts to change what’s happening through cooperation and faith.
On Thursday, the Jackson City Council approved the city’s budget which boosts the starting salary of a JPD officer to more than $30,000, which leaders say will help recruitment and morale, but the move is a long-term solution.
“We need to get more of our police officers living in our city. Right now about 75 percent of our police officers don’t live in Jackson. I’m pushing for incentivizing them -- police officers, schoolteachers and firefighters -- to stabilize these neighborhoods," said Ward 4 Councilman De’Keither Stamps.
Stamps said the council is also trying to make sure the police department has what it needs to be effective.
“I think having more police officers on the street would help with some of the killings," Sidney said.
Brown said JPD hopes to have a recruit class later this month, though officers who graduate wouldn’t actually start working in the field until they undergo three months of training.
Wilson, who’s still waiting for the man arrested for her son’s death to be indicted, said she wants more experienced officers working these beats.
“They might be doing their job as they’ve been taught, but it’s just, to me, not good enough, when it comes to my son. I’m sorry," Wilson said.