Exclusive: Analysis shows Jackson police chief misled council members, public about city’s crime rate

Data from JPD indicates overall crime dropped 11 percent, not 30 percent as James Davis claimed in January
Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 7:06 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - For the second time in four years, a 3 On Your Side investigation finds the Jackson Police Department misled city council members and the public about how safe the Capital City actually is.

Our digging began in January after Chief James Davis shared a variety of crime statistics at a public safety ad-hoc meeting, most of them showing drops in most major crimes for 2022 when compared with the year before that.

Davis then told the council that overall crime dropped nearly 30 percent from 2021 to last year.

Davis had been reading from a sheet produced by the department, which listed those decreases in crimes like aggravated assault and homicide.

The department’s own raw numbers, obtained exclusively by 3 On Your Side weeks after filing a public records request, result in an 11.7 percent reduction in overall crime.

Why did Davis give the wrong numbers to the council?

He may not have even been aware of it.

Our investigation has determined someone in JPD — either in the major investigations unit or the chief’s own command staff — likely compiled the sheet Davis then shared with council members.

The department’s own data shows that violent crime — which includes rape, aggravated assault, and homicide — went down more than 21 percent last year.

Property crimes decreased by nearly 8 percent as well.

It appears whoever put these numbers together for Davis simply added those percentages together, coming up with 29.5 percent.

A 3 On Your Side analysis reveals that process is inaccurate and doesn’t accurately reflect JPD’s own raw data.

Part of the reason for the discrepancy comes from the fact that, in Jackson, property crimes happen far more frequently than violent ones, almost 3 to 1.

To see the difference in overall crimes, one has to add the total number of violent and property crimes for 2022 together, do the same for 2021, then subtract 2021′s total from 2022. One would then divide by 2021′s total to get the percent change: 11.7 percent fewer crimes than the year before.

Total Violent Crimes for 2022Total Property Crimes for 2022Total Violent Crimes for 2021Total Property Crimes for 2021
Total Crimes for 2022Total Crimes for 2021Percent Change

That number still represents a drop in crime for the Capital City — a positive — but it’s a far cry from the sensationalized number cited by the chief.

“I have had several doubts, but the only thing we could do is ask the questions and leave it up to him to tell the truth,” Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks said. “And, you know, look, giving a not-factual statement to the legislative branch who holds the purse strings of the city does not help any director. It does not help the chief. It’s incumbent upon the leadership to be as honest as they can, to be factual as we can so that leaders that are elected can do what they need to do.”

This isn’t the first time JPD has misrepresented its own crime statistics to the public.

A 2019 WLBT investigation revealed that the department put out inaccurate crime statistics on multiple occasions — reducing the number of grand larcenies and other crimes — and only when those numbers were released publicly.

Those lower numbers made it appear overall crime dropped years ago when actually it went up.

At the time, JPD never gave a valid reason for why those numbers were changed or the outcome of any investigation following our analysis.

The department did, however, eventually stop releasing statistics to the public altogether in the months after our initial investigation.

3 On Your Side also contacted Davis, Assistant Chief Joseph Wade, and others within JPD for comment on our findings for this story, as well as Mayor Chowke Antar Lumumba, but have not yet received any response.

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