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Exclusive: Video shows dozens street racing while Jackson patrol officer watches

JPD cites no-pursuit policy as reason behind the inaction
Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 9:02 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As residents express their concerns to Jackson City Council members about illegal street racing, a video obtained by 3 On Your Side shows not only how dangerous this behavior can be, but also how the city’s no-pursuit policy likely hinders their ability to make headway in these cases.

The video taken in late February shows dozens of vehicles revving their engines and speeding down a portion of Bailey Avenue, passing through red lights and failing to adhere to the four-lane’s 35 mph limit.

It also shows a Jackson patrol car with lights flashing as the racers speed by, unfazed by the police presence.

The video does not show JPD pursuing the lawbreakers, though the department’s no-pursuit policy only allows them to give chase in situations where violent felonies are involved.

“There seems to be almost no traffic control. It seems like you could do any type of traffic violation here with the exception maybe of drunk driving,” said Patricia Ice, who lives in Fondren and is part of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation’s task force to address this issue. “People are running red lights. They’re not stopping. The police are often in the neighborhood. My husband says this all the time, that the police are sitting right there, but they didn’t stop the person.”

Ice spoke at a special called Jackson City Council meeting Tuesday, where a few council members also expressed their concerns about the dangers of street racing and running red lights on straightaways throughout the Capital City.

WLBT showed Ice the video from Bailey Avenue, which only confirms concerns from residents in many parts of Jackson kept up by loud engines and close calls.

“They look like they’re driving on the freeway,” Ice said. “We’re very, very afraid. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 16 years now. We just want, we want peace in our neighborhood.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes said he believes an ordinance with mandatory jail time would deter this kind of behavior.

“When they first started, they were shooting them guns,” Stokes said. “[People were] hanging all out the windows and everything else.”

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said mandatory jail time would be difficult because misdemeanor offenders in Jackson can’t be jailed, thanks to a consent decree.

“It matters very little what we do here if we have a jail that can’t keep people and a jail that can’t take misdemeanors,” Lumumba said. “When they say they’re not taking any misdemeanors and that’s what our police have been told, it’s not an option available to them.”

The council also discussed impounding cars as a possible deterrent.

“We want more action, you know, and less talk. We want to see them doing something. We want to see them giving out tickets a lot. And as I said, impounding cars, putting boots on cars, all those things cost money. But we feel like the city has money and can do those types of things,” Ice said.

One thing Police Chief James Davis said during the meeting didn’t sit well with Ice.

“It appeared that they are racing, but in many of these cases, they are not racing. They are individuals in nice cars, and they travel in packs,” Davis said, explaining to the council that when police show up, the racers disperse, and it’s difficult to be able to get anybody.

Ice thinks that’s deflection and another excuse from the police department.

“Some of us with the Fondren Renaissance Foundation were a little put off by that because we’ve seen the people out here, racing,” Ice said.

3 On Your Side showed Ice the Bailey Avenue video from February showing a JPD patrol car sitting there with lights on, not pursuing street racers there.

“Doing nothing. Yeah, that’s despicable,” Ice said.

JPD spokesperson Sam Brown released a statement to 3 On Your Side regarding the video and officers’ perceived actions.

“Jackson Police continues to enforce Operation CRUSH, which saturates high-traffic areas of the city targeting speeders,” Brown said. “However, Jackson Police Department has a no-pursuit policy. Officers are not allowed to pursue vehicles during misdemeanor crimes for fear of jeopardizing innocent lives and property.”

Brown said officers are utilizing other investigating tools to gather information on vehicles and individuals that participate in street racing.

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