12 News Investigates: Crime experts speak on Jackson’s violence

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In 2020, murder skyrocketed in Jackson. The Jackson Police Department investigated 129 homicides, setting a new all-time record.

Officer Sam Brown said a lot of factors could have caused the surge and the pandemic may be playing a role.

“It’s causing a lot of people to be intertwined for a much longer period of time. and which causes crime when you have people you’re in a period of time for a longer period something happens you have an increase,” said Brown.

Jackson Police Chief James Davis has stated on several occasions the homicides happened between people who know each other.

Charlie Scheer who teaches criminal justice courses at the University of Southern Mississippi has some theories.

“One of the things we did see in the pandemic we saw idle people. They were sitting around the house; they had nothing to do. I’m not saying they would go out and commit a murder, but may have done other things,” said Scheer.

Scheer said there could be a ripple effects from the lockdown.

“If you have a beef against somebody instead of calling the cops, I’m just gonna go kill’em, and that happened in the 1920’s. It’s kind of a far distant comparison. but it’s not unprecedented. As a result of the drop in trust in authority, we see an increase in violent crime.”

2020 brought a lack of trust in police, there’s also a lack of officers at the Jackson Police Department.

“I think the police department in Jackson is having so many fundamental workforce issues pertaining to people leaving, that that staff level is tipping point low,” said Scheer.

The Jackson Police Department is working to recruit officers to fill its shortage. The problem the agency is facing is also part of a national trend.

Michael Wigginton Jr., who is a criminal justice assistant teacher and retired Special Agent U.S. Customs, said a career in law enforcement is showing disinterest.

“Prior to the COVID 19 outbreak, the police rank and file were depleted by 10-12 percent nationwide. Now since Ferguson especially and the riots in Baltimore, the police ranks have depleted further to 20 percent were seeing across the nation now for the fact of a lack of support for police,” said Wigginton, Jr.

Across the nation, officers are retiring earlier, they are also moving to different professions.

Crime expert Michael Wigginton Jr. said family members are also discouraging their loved ones from becoming police officers.

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