Gov. Reeves maps out plan for additional MHP, Capitol Police presence in Jackson in response to rising crime
When asked why no city, county officials were present for the major initiative, Reeves said ‘they weren’t invited’
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - After a rash of crime and violence in Mississippi’s capital city, Governor Tate Reeves announced plans to increase the Department of Public Safety’s role in Jackson.
Reeves said he plans to do so through two pieces of legislation he 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 Safety Patrol to set up radar on highways in municipalities with a population above 15,000.
“At its core, the government’s job is to secure and protect its residents,” Reeves said.
He referred to a “never-ending cycle of crime” in the capital city causing the residents of Jackson to fear for their lives.
Beginning Thursday, Reeves says Capitol police will become a more visible presence downtown. He also asked Jackson residents to stay alert and notify police of any crimes that may be happening.
“This initiative will help, it will make a difference, but this is just one step toward reducing crime in our capital city,” he said.
While Reeves addressed questions from reporters, flanked on either side by members of the Capitol Police and MHP, noticeably absent were Jackson officials, members of JPD and Hinds County personnel.
“Well, I presume they’re not here because we didn’t invite them to necessarily be here. We work very closely with the Jackson Police Department, we work closely with Hinds SO and we will continue to work closely with them,” Reeves said. “But they are not under our jurisdiction, nor they underneath our control. And so you know, as I mentioned earlier, [Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell] has personally spoken with the mayor, was reaching out to the chief and others within the city.”
Tindell said the initiative will allow more law enforcement officers to patrol across the city, including along the interstates and state highways and across the area where Capitol Police patrol.
“As we increase the presence of state law enforcement, we feel we can make our state safer, not just the residents of Jackson,” Tindell said.
He says this will also make a difference among Mississippi residents who may be afraid to visit the capital city feel safer to do so.
Because of jurisdiction, Capitol Police and MHP will only be able to patrol around the Capitol and on state highways and interstates.
Reeves says he is hopeful the efforts will be able to ease the burden from Jackson Police Department and Hinds County Sheriff’s Office to address other areas of the city where crime is most prominent.
He strongly suggests the city and county should use $87 million in federal COVID relief funds on either law enforcement or improving the water supply system.
They wouldn’t delve into the number of additional officers patrolling across the city, but both Reeves and Tindell said there will be a notable increase in officers from MHP, Capitol Police and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
Jackson Police Department and Hinds County Sheriff’s Office were not invited to the press conference.
When asked about sending in the National Guard, an idea brought up by City Councilman Kenneth Stokes, Reeves dismissed the idea.
“The National Guard is not law enforcement,” Reeves said, pointing out they’d only be called in in the case of a riot or other extenuating circumstances.
He did, however, acknowledge Stokes’ calls for help and said the fact that he shares the same concerns points to the problem needing to be addressed.
Below is the statement released by Jackson’s Mayor Lumumba regarding Gov. Reeves’ safety initiative:
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.
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