MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Project EJECT is officially up and running in the city of Moss Point and Jackson County. It’s an effort led by the U.S. Attorney’s office to reduce violent crime. Those crimes range from murders, to armed robberies and carjackings.
The city courtroom at the Moss Point Police Department was a who’s who of law enforcement Thursday: a sheriff, a police chief, prosecutors and the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Mississippi.
Project EJECT is needed, as Southern District U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst explained.
“Multiple people shot and one killed at a Super Bowl party last year. A 14-year-old kidnapped and sexually assaulted while she was waiting on a school bus," he said.
Violent crime is the target, and Mayor Mario King has a message.
“We also want you to know that it’s these other individuals that are standing next to me that will tell you and read you your rights and let you know that it’s time for you to be prosecuted," he said.
Launched by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Mississippi in December 2017 in the City of Jackson under the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe neighborhoods initiative, Project EJECT is designed as an enhanced violent crime reduction program that incorporates decades of experience in bringing various levels of law enforcement together with stakeholders in the community, with the overall goal of producing a long-term, meaningful reduction in and prevention of violent crime.
Law-abiding citizens have no reason to worry, but they can play an important role.
“My goal is not to lock everyone up in the city of Moss Point," said Police Chief Brandon Ashley. "My goal is to reduce violent crime, and I need the citizens’ help to do that.”
Project EJECT is comprised of a number of federal law enforcement agencies, as well as task force officers from various state and local investigative agencies, who will interact regularly with the Moss Point Police Department and the District Attorney’s Offices to identify and respond to violent crimes when they occur. Cases arising from these crimes will then be presented to the local District Attorney’s offices and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
A special federal prosecutor will be assigned to Moss Point to help put violent criminals behind bars, and that kind of cooperation is vitally important for Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell.
“We’ve got to work together as law enforcement and prosecutors because if we don’t, the citizens are going to suffer and we’re not going to let that happen," he said.
Project EJECT has a lofty goal that everyone is reaching for, according to Hurst.
“Moss Point is a thriving town with good decent citizens who want just what we all want, to raise their families, to go to work, worship as they please and to live in safe secure communities and neighborhoods,” he said.
In expanding Project EJECT into Moss Point, the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues to lead the initiative, with First Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca and Criminal Chief Courtney Coker guiding the task force initially, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Carter in Gulfport serving as the primary prosecutor for violent cases, long-time Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Williams in Gulfport serving as a senior adviser and prosecutor and Assistant U.S. Attorney Candace Mayberry in Jackson serving as the Project Safe Neighborhoods Coordinator for the enter Southern District of Mississippi.
As part of Project EJECT, federal grant money will be available to local law enforcement agencies in the effort to cut down on violent crime, but details on the application process are still being worked out.