Governor announces plan to help reduce crime in Jackson
A state law enforcement initiative to help make Jackson safer was announced by Gov. Tate Reeves last week.
The city of Jackson will benefit from an increase in state law enforcement presence and visibility under a Capital City Safety Initiative.
Thanks to new legislation that allows the Mississippi Highway Patrol to operate in the city limits and for the Capitol Police Department to work under the Department of Public Safety, state police will take on some law enforcement duties within the city of Jackson freeing up Jackson police to focus on crime, officials said.
Jackson is experiencing a high crime rate in recent months approaching 80 murders recorded already this year.
“At its core, the government’s most basic responsibility is to protect its citizens and residents,” Reeves said in announcing the initiative on July 14. “My top priority is and has always been and will always be ensuring the safety of all Mississippians.”
Reeves said reports of violent crime in Jackson seem to be a never-ending cycle.
“This is not what Jackson is and does not reflect who we are as a city or who we are as a state,” Reeves said. “For Jackson to reach its full potential, the residents must be able to satisfy one of their most basic fundamental needs. Safety and security.”
During the last legislative session, the Legislature passed House Bill 974, which transferred the Capitol Police Department to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, and Senate Bill 2788, which allowed the Mississippi Highway Patrol to operate stationary radar within larger cities.
“This gave us the greater opportunity to help the city of Jackson and our capital city by utilizing state assets and resources to help protect the citizens of Mississippi and in particular those within the capital city,” Reeves said.
The initiative also will increase the number of Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics officers, who operate unnoticed, in Jackson, Reeves said.
Mississippi Capitol Police officers will operate in the Capitol Complex Improvement District that includes downtown Jackson from I-55 and the capitol building to Jackson State University, Fondren and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
“I would like to remind everybody that the goal here is to create a safer capital city," said Sean Tindell, commissioner, Mississippi Department of Public Safety. “The citizens of Mississippi should be able to visit their state capital. They should be able to visit their state hospital, their state museums without the fear of being raped, robbed or murdered while they visit their capital city initiative will make a difference. It is a starting point, and we look forward to increasing our efforts over the years.”
Tindell said he could not provide specifics numbers of new officers that will be immediately employed under the initiative.
“We just graduated a patrol class of 45,” Tindell said. “Our goal for the future is to have 600 highway patrolmen, 150 capitol police officers and 150 Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents.”
Currently, the Capitol Police Department has 81 uniformed officers, the MBN has 92 agents and the MHP has 520 Troopers, Tindell said.
“When you combine the increased presence of capitol police, the increased number of state troopers as well as the increased presence of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, which you will not see, I can assure you that the presence will be felt,” Reeves said.
Tindell said the increased law enforcement presence is already having an impact.
“Since these bills went into effect on July 1, the Mississippi Highway Patrol has issued 87 traffic citations within the city of Jackson and over 14 DUI citations within the city of Jackson already,” Tindell said. “Already, there has been an increase in the presence and that increase will continue to grow with this saturation.”
Reeves said the Jackson Police Department has plenty of good officers and employees but they need more resources.
“They need more help,” Reeves said. “They need more officers. I’m hopeful that our efforts are going to help supplement what they do but this is not a police force that is going to be policing the streets in every area of the city of Jackson. That is not the role that the state plays.”
Reeves said he is hopeful the Jackson City Council and the Hinds County Board of Supervisors will designate some of their federal COVID relief monies, which combined is $87 million, for more police officers.
“The president of the United States, President Biden, said that within the last couple of weeks that he encourages all municipal leaders to use some of this money from the federal government for law enforcement to get control of the crime situation,” Reeves said.
Reeves said Jackson is not alone, that many medium and large cities throughout the nation are also experiencing upticks in crime.
“I am hopeful and I strongly encourage the city council, the board of supervisors and other local leaders,” Reeves said, “to join in this effort but also to invest in their local police.”
Reeves said he wants residents, visitors and investors to be safe when they visit Mississippi’s capital city of Jackson.
“To our residents and those looking to relocate and those looking to invest in our capital city, I make this commitment to you, my administration will do whatever it takes to help keep downtown Jackson safe,” Reeves said. “If you are a resident or if you work here, you can help us. Two things you can do to help us. In the event of an emergency, call 911. If you see something, say something. If you have information on a crime, call our central Mississippi Crimestoppers at 601-355-TIPS (8477). All callers will remain anonymous.”