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Consider This: Jackson Is Not Safe

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 5:41 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - This week, a family event at the Mississippi Fairgrounds was upended when three young men began shooting at the crowd enjoying the festivities.

Because of the quick response from local law enforcement, they likely saved the lives of many of the people attending the Mudbug Festival.

Mississippi Ag. Commissioner Andy Gipson, who oversees the Fairgrounds, said the backlog of cases in the judicial system is a big part of the problem. He’s right.

Another major factor is many of the criminals have no fear of consequences when the courts are merely giving them a slap on the wrist and letting them walk… only to cause more terror and destruction.

City leadership in Jackson is also dragging its feet on opening a misdemeanor jail, something that is desperately needed to reduce crime in the city. And in what is one of the most out-of-touch statements ever, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said he believes the city is safe.

I bet the families of the 153 people murdered last year, and the 42 people already murdered this year, would disagree.

There is, however, some help on the way.

The state allocated millions of dollars this year to expand the ranks of the Capitol Police Department and hire more judges and prosecutors in Hinds County. It’s a start, but that alone won’t solve the problem.

State leaders need to do more to make our Capitol City safe. They should expand the Capitol Complex Improvement District boundaries and create a separate court jurisdiction for that district.

And with a goal of having 150-plus officers on the Capitol Police force, they should give that law enforcement division a prominent headquarters in the former Naval Reserve Center.

The building is owned by the state and sits empty.

It is adjacent to the Capitol Police vehicle parking compound and sits directly across the street from the Fairgrounds. It would be a highly visible police presence for the many events held year-round at the state fairground complex.

The state also needs to expedite the demolition plans for the former Dennery’s building and OYO hotel, two properties the state now owns, and they should move forward with imminent domain to acquire the Regency Hotel and raze that facility as soon as possible.

That stretch of derelict properties only creates more safety issues. And finally, they should close the Greymont Street perimeter road around the Coliseum and make that part of the Fairgrounds property.

Until these and many other important changes take place, don’t be surprised if the very real crime problems in our capital city continue.

Unlike Jackson’s mayor, many, many, many people don’t feel safe in the city. That’s not an exaggeration… not a political soundbite… that’s just the plain truth.

As WLBT’s former owner and GM Frank Melton would say: That, my friends, is the Bottom Line.

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