JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – One person who knows about Jackson crime is Sheriff Lee Vance. The former Jackson police chief worked with the department for 30 years in several roles.
“I started in 1987. We started the academy right at Labor Day, and we ended up graduating three weeks before Christmas in December 1987, and I went to work as a beat officer right after graduation,” he said.
Vance said there are a lot of differences, good and bad, from his time back then. The most important thing he learned is how to be a true officer.
“Understanding what it is that you’re supposed to be doing, and that’s being a public servant. Once you get that in your head and practice those types of methods, then you’ll probably come out okay.”
He rose through the ranks of the department before becoming the police chief in 2014. The focus of the department was on building relationships with the people of Jackson and staff.
“Inside the police department, we operated on what we called EAP, and all of our sworn staff and civilian staff had to live up to those standards.”
The sheriff said this is what he credits for their success.
“During my tenure as chief, we were able to build the ranks of the police department. We had success in lowering the crime rate. I certainly didn’t do it by myself. I was chief for three and a half years, and we had double digit crime reductions every year.”
During his time as chief, he said the majority of the homicides the department investigated were between people who knew each other. He said that’s the same case as today.
While some want to increase the number of officers in the city, Vance said quality is better than quantity.
“I would rather have 10 dedicated police officers than 100 that’s gonna go out there and cause confusion on the community.”
Vance said he’s glad to see mental health awareness coming to the forefront. He also called for criminal justice reform.
“We are talking about these issues on a daily basis. I’m glad that there’s more conversations about criminal justice reform, and I’m hoping that more attention is paid to pre-trial detainees as far as getting them moving through the system at a quicker pace.”
The sheriff said the Hinds County Detention Center is working to stay in compliance with the Justice Department through the consent decree. He’s confident that with everyone’s support, crime in Jackson can get under control.