JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - More than two weeks after Jackson’s police chief unveiled a plan to tackle violent crime in the Capital City, there’s still no clear picture of when residents could see the full impact of that plan as killings continue to outpace the city’s deadliest year on record.
“It’s parts that are developing and moving forward, and so it’s not fully implemented. But we’re continuing to build on that plan, as well as the external strategies that we believe aid that plan,” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said.
3 On Your Side then asked Lumumba about when the plan, titled Operation Crush, would be fully implemented in the city.
“I would leave that to the police chief to speak about the full implementation of the crime plan, because I’m not, as we’re talking, looking at all of the layers. And so, it would be somewhat inappropriate for me to speak to a definite time,” Lumumba said.
Lumumba’s decision not to share those details comes amid escalating deadly violence in the Capital City, with 36 homicides taking place in the city in just three months.
That surge represents an 80 percent increase over last year, year to date.
Council members have not yet given their approval of the plan because of specifics the law enforcement ad hoc committee asked JPD Chief James Davis for on March 15: measurables that would indicate the effectiveness of strategies the chief provided as well as a cost breakdown for the six requests made to the council for additional personnel and supplies.
Neither Davis nor Lumumba showed up to the subsequent committee meeting a week later.
An internal memo from Lumumba obtained by 3 On Your Side shows the mayor told committee members days before the meeting that neither he nor the police chief would attend and asked for it to be rescheduled to give more time for the chief to gather the data requested.
Davis attended most of Tuesday’s regular council meeting; during that time, council members did not ask Davis any questions about the crime plan during his attendance.
Council President Aaron Banks blamed the lack of information from Davis as reason why the council decided to move forward with an agreement to pay $500,000 to the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department for 50 additional deputies to specifically patrol the city.
“I’m not trying to start a fight but we also asked for some specifics from JPD even before we made that decision,” Banks said.
Frustrations between councilmen and the mayor’s chief of staff continued throughout the last hour of the meeting, directed at the agreement between HCSO and the city of Jackson.
Longtime Councilman Charles Tillman said the verbal agreement needed to be written before they would give any money toward that effort.
He and Ward 7 Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay both raised those concerns and ended up voting against the measure, though it still passed with a majority vote.
Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes and Ward 4 Councilman De’Keither Stamps argued that recent killings -- including one where two teenagers are charged with capital murder - reflect a “lawlessness” in the city that is deeply troubling.
“We agree that we’re not where we want to be. But we just disagree on how to get there. I’m just saying that the efforts we’ve taken, that we parade around, are not working,” Stamps said. “We seem like the tone that victims of domestic violence have. ‘It’s all right, it’s not as bad as it is. He really love me.’ No, we are beat down. We are beat down. And we need help. Our police officers need help.”
Lumumba, speaking to reporters during the meeting, said he understands the frustration many are feeling.
“What people have to understand is that unfortunately, there’s no switch that we turn on, and then the murders just stop until we can inundate and alleviate the social determinants that lead to it,” Lumumba said. “And that is an ongoing process. That is an ongoing commitment, not only from the police department, not only from the city leadership, but from community, that’s the only way that you’re going to be able to do that.”
Lumumba said JPD is already using data about resources and crime to help measure what they manage, part of an ongoing process to strengthen the department.
Much of that data is not being shared with the public, however.
For example, the most recent crime statistics on the City of Jackson website are more than eight months old.
3 On Your Side reached out to Davis to find out when the crime plan would be fully implemented and ask about the status of the council committee’s requests, but the chief did not return multiple requests for comment through public information officer Sam Brown and his own assistant, Gilda Coleman.