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Potholes part of the reason behind Jackson’s no-chase policy

Viral video shows cars blocking traffic, doing donuts on I-55 in Jackson
Viral video shows cars blocking traffic, doing donuts on I-55 in Jackson
Updated: Jan. 5, 2021 at 1:20 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson maintains a no-chase policy, in part, because of the city’s pothole problem.

On Tuesday, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba provided some additional rationale behind the city’s no-chase policy, which has been criticized recently following a drag racing incident on I-55.

The incident occurred on New Year’s night. Police responded to the scene but did not pursue the revelers, who fled when they saw the blue lights.

Since then, the Jackson Police Department (JPD) has been questioned for not giving chase.

Lumumba stands by the department’s decision, saying it was the right thing to do.

And he continues to support the city’s no-chase policy, in part, because of the city’s worn-out infrastructure.

“The no-chase policy is based on trying to protect the life and property of individuals who come into contact with the chase,” Lumumba said at the council’s January 5 meeting. “We’ve seen chases from outside agencies, some of which have become deadly, and several of which have led to accidents taking place on private property.”

Lives and property aside, Lumumba said the policy is going to remain in place because Jackson’s roads simply can’t handle high-speed pursuits.

“Our roads aren’t conducive to high-speed chases to take place,” he said. “It’s very easy for a vehicle to lose control.”

He said some of the chases ending in Jackson resulted in crashes likely because of the city’s infrastructure.

In addition to discussing city policy, Lumumba gave council members a brief update on the January 1 incident, telling them that one arrest had been made and that additional arrests were likely.

“JPD has been able to review several components of evidence and information … and it is believed that based on the information they have received, there will be subsequent arrests in due time,” he said.

The incident occurred on I-55 in the North Jackson and Fondren areas, near the city’s major hospitals. Videos posted on social media show drivers doing donuts as traffic backed up.

In all, the interstate was tied up for about an hour until police responded to the scene. No injuries were reported.

The mayor reiterated the fact that what took place that night was a copycat incident, in which young people were mimicking what has been done in other cities.

He said he’s heard from teens who say they’re simply looking for something to do. “They want someplace where they can interact and engage,” he said.

Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes questioned the mayor’s assertion that the drivers involved were kids. He said similar incidents have taken place in his ward, but have not gotten the same attention.

“We’ve been complaining about the mayhem on Bailey Avenue and Northside Drive ... These are the same people. They’re not young kids in school. They’re in their upper teens and 20s, doing all kinds of things,” he said.

Like Stokes, Ward Seven Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay said she’s gotten numerous calls in the last three years about dangerous driving on Meadowbrook Road, North State Street and Northside Drive.

“I did have a conversation with the police chief on Sunday because I was concerned it was Sunday joy-riding,” she said.

The councilwoman said that one bright spot from Friday’s incident is the fact video has surfaced, which can help the police capture those involved.

Said Lindsay, “Because of that video, we have some pretty serious evidence.”

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