JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A rash of shootings on Sunday left two people dead and three others injured in separate incidents across the Capital City, with one councilman telling 3 On Your Side the city and mayor’s office need to do more to address these killings and stop making excuses.
“We got to get more boots on the ground in Jackson to stop the violence that we see occurring every day,” said Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes.
This weekend’s surge in gun violence serves as another reminder that the city just isn’t doing enough to combat crime, Stokes said.
At approximately 3 a.m. Sunday, a gunman shot and killed 37-year-old Byron Burns on Bailey Avenue.
Less than thirty minutes later, someone else shot and killed 25-year-old Kiana Singleton.
JPD said Singleton died in a vehicle in the 2100 block of Wandering Way after being struck by a bullet on Interstate 220.
“These mothers that’s calling me for losing their children, they’re hurt. They’re hurt every day,” Stokes said. “They go into these bedrooms where their child slept, hoping they have some dream the child is still alive. Instead of making excuses, we got to come up with solutions.”
Part of that solution, Stokes said, lays squarely with Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba: Let Police Chief James Davis do what he was appointed to do.
“We got to make sure we give the chief the authority to do his job. It’s like it’s been said, Monday morning quarterback, any decision he makes, he’s afraid that it’s gonna piss the mayor off and he’s gonna get fired,” Stokes said. “The mayor needs to get out of the police department, let the police officers do their job. If [the chief] can’t do his job, then you make a change, but with you second-guessing the chief, it’s going to make the chief always afraid to pull the trigger.”
The councilman also said criminals are calling the mayor and complaining about Davis and the department, implying those phone calls lead to fewer criminals being arrested.
“The criminal can call the mayor and complain about the chief,” Stokes said. “You know, that’s not right, especially when he’s trying to stop criminals.”
Stokes did not offer any proof of that claim, however.
3 On Your Side reached out to the mayor’s office to see if Lumumba would want to respond to Stokes’ claims.
Communications director Michelle Atoa said the comments from the councilman were “really not worth responding” to.
One issue that has been discussed at length among city officials deals with additional manpower.
Stokes said in years past, officers have transferred to JPD from other departments, the councilman said, an action referred to as a lateral move.
Those transfers mean officers can hit the ground running and increase the ranks without the long waits that come with getting new cadets.
Stokes also disagrees with Lumumba’s stance on the causes of crime; the first-term mayor has said many times that he believes poverty plays a major role.
“We all came up poor. Just because you’re poor, it doesn’t give you the green light to kill someone,” Stokes said.
JPD spokesperson Sam Brown said the department is continuing to be vigilant in the fight against crime.
“The department has added to the force with a new recruit class that has recently graduated and another recruit class is in training now with an anticipated graduation date of February 26,” Brown said in a statement “Increased patrol operations along the Interstate as well as continuing with ‘Operation Safe Streets.’ Commanders are also conducting ‘Knock and Talks’ where they interact with citizens and residents in the neighborhoods directly.”