JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Some convenience stores in the city of Jackson will soon be required to have security guards.
At a special meeting Wednesday, the city council approved an ordinance requiring 24-hour convenience stores to have security personnel in place between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.
All other gas stations located in the Jackson corporate limits will be required to adopt a security plan and file it with the city within 100 days of the ordinance’s passage.
The measure was approved unanimously.
It was introduced by Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes. “What we have to do is make sure these stores are safe,” he said. “Safety has to be our primary issue now. We need to make sure people are safe and make sure what happened at the Jasco never happens again.”
In early February, two men were killed in a Sunday afternoon shootout at the Woodrow Wilson Jasco.
Investigators said one person, Christopher Lee, 28, was shot multiple times inside the business and died on the scene.
During the incident, Lee returned fire, shooting one of the suspects involved multiple times. That suspect, Justin Partee, 33, later died at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Two other suspects were later arrested.
Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote and Ward Two Councilwoman Angelique Lee had concerns with the ordinance.
Foote said the measure could force gas stations to close during the hours security is required.
“If the expense for providing security for these stores wipes out profits, they may decide to close and not be open during that time period,” he said. “Maybe that’s a good thing, but for people who need gas, we may have fewer service stations available for people traveling.
“I’m in favor of more security, but I don’t want to have unintended consequences.”
Stokes acknowleged that fact, saying that if stores have to close during those hours they’ll have to close.
“We need to make sure these crimes are not occurring – the robberies, the murders, the shootings,” Stokes said. “It’s our job to protect the citizens, not the store owners. If they have a problem with it … they can sue.”
For her part, Lee said businesses are struggling right now as a result of the pandemic and might not be able to afford security.
Planning Director Jordan Hillman also brought up concerns, including the fact that the ordinance did not have any defining language or violation notice policies.
“What the ordinance is missing is how it works, where does the security plan get filed,” she said. “We need to make it a program more than just words on a page.”
The one-page ordinance does not include language on how the ordinance would be enforced, nor does it define what type of security must be provided, armed or unarmed. It also doesn’t say what information should be included in a security plan or who the plan has to be submitted to in city government.
Ward Four Councilman De’Keither Stamps said the ordinance is a starting point, and that it could be amended at a later date. He said he trusts the administration on developing policies to enforce it.
Council President Aaron Banks recommended passing the measure, but asked Hillman to research possible amendments to the ordinance after it passed.
The rule goes into effect in 30 days.