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City leaders react to governor’s new safety initiative in Jackson

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 12:28 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Residents in Jackson may soon notice a heavier police presence throughout the city.

Wednesday, Governor Tate Reeves announced a new Safety Initiative. The plan increases the Department of Public Safety’s role in Jackson.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol, Bureau of Narcotics, and State Capitol Police Department will now have the ability to patrol the city’s highways, interstates, and inside the Capitol Complex Improvement District.

The plan is being enacted following two pieces of legislation Reeves signed earlier this year: House Bill 974, which authorizes the Mississippi Department of Public Safety to acquire the State Capitol Police Department, and Senate Bill 2788, which authorizes the Mississippi Highway Patrol to set up radar on highways in municipalities with a population above 15,000.

This help comes as Jackson endures another deadly year.

So far, the city has seen 79 homicides.

For Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks, the new safety plan and increased law enforcement presence comes as good news.

“Today, is a good step because it will immediately provide more visibility,” said Banks, who’s now serving in his second term.

Banks believes that visibility will help prevent crime, and provide much-needed assistance to the Jackson Police Department, which is currently understaffed.

“When you have that type of visibility on our state highways, and that type of visibility within the Capital City Improvement District, again, it gives the Jackson Police Department the opportunity to be freed up, to operate, and beef up their beats in areas around town, areas of South Jackson, areas of Shady Oaks, where some of our hotspots are,” said Banks.

”There’s been a theme in many of our city council meetings of late where we have been asking for more help, one way or another, however we thought we could get it, and this is, I believe, is a real solution to a very big problem,” said Virgi Lindsay, council president representing Ward 7.

Lindsay said she’s not only grateful for the impact the help could have on the city’s crime issues, but also the impact it won’t have on the city’s budget.

”This is putting additional officers on our streets without us having to try to add that personnel in our budget,” said Lindsay. “The budget standpoint of this, is hugely helpful.”

With the plan now in place, Banks said this is just one step. He wants the city to continue focusing on increasing police officers’ salaries, finding a misdemeanor holding facility, and finding more creative ways of policing by dealing with mental health issues, and working with community organizations.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba released a statement weighing in on the plan:

“We are pleased to see within the plan shared today that the State of Mississippi and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is moving towards the transparency that we identified as an urgent need when the City of Jackson created the Police Identification Task Force. That said, the problem of crime is not going to be solved through policing alone. The State’s efforts to better streamline its law enforcement agencies and bolster communication in and around the Capitol City Complex and State highways is within its jurisdiction. The City and Jackson Police Department welcome the commitment to greater collaboration and support. However, we must also apply the same effort toward authoring solutions that address the root of the problem. The State has failed to provide adequate funding in this regard. In order to realize true impact, it is necessary to also stand up and bolster the social supports and community programs that lift up our communities by addressing issues of poverty, joblessness, mental health, gaps in education and opportunity and more.”

The new initiative kicks off July 15.

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