JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Convenience stores have been a constant target for criminals in Jackson lately and it’s bad enough that an idea pitched before, mandatory private security guards, is being pitched yet again by a member of the city council.
Even business owners who fear for their safety and the safety of their employees say they simply can’t afford it.
Most people agree that it’s a good idea to have more security at areas targeted by criminals, but it’s not that simple, especially when someone eventually has to pay for that security.
“That’s not the solution; that if someone is running the business, they have all the burden put on them,” said Surinder Singh, a business owner.
It’s an argument that has been brought up many times before … security guards, monitoring convenience stores that operate 24-7.
“If hiring a security guard would be the difference between someone having a funeral, and someone going home from buying something; we need to do what we can to make sure everyone is safe,” said Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes.
His proposal would require stores operating overnight have a security guard between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m.
For business owners like Singh, it’s a matter of who foots the bill.
“If the city wants to hire the security guard, we have no problem. We have no problem, if they bring on the security guards, but the city has to provide the security,” said Singh.
“I understand money. That is something they say every time, but they have money to do any and everything else they want to do. And we are only talking about six hours. We’re talking about 12 to six. We are not talking about 24 hours, so money is a non-issue,” said Councilman Stokes.
These crimes are nothing new.
Recently, a clerk was sent to the hospital after police say a would-be robber shot through a bullet proof glass with an assault rifle.
Before that, a woman was held at gunpoint when a man robbed the Exxon on Old Canton Road.
“The police are doing all they can. They need help. The council has to understand, who is going to pay the security guard?” said Singh.
Councilman Stokes argues that it can be a matter of life and death, so store owners need to figure out a way to make it happen.
Singh on the other hand argues that the city should provide some kind of assistance to business owners.
“When he talks about the security, we have a department specially designed for that. The police department is the one,” said Singh.
“We understand that they say they need the police, while the police department can’t babysit these convenience stores. We as a city of Jackson must do everything we can to make sure both parties are safe,” said Councilman Stokes.
A similar proposal went before the council before, and made it to committee, but stopped there.
If this plan fails, Councilman Stokes wants to make modifications to the previous proposal and move forward that way.