Mississippi governor announces Jackson public safety initiative

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Wednesday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell will discuss the department’s efforts to increase its presence and visibility in the City of Jackson.

The Capitol Police Department became part of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety as of July 1. The police department patrols areas in and around state government buildings. It was previously part of the state Department of Finance and Administration.

The governor signed House Bill 974 which authorized the Mississippi Department of Public Safety to acquire the State Capitol Police Department. Effective July 1, 2021, the State Capitol Police Department functions as a stand-alone subsidiary of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and works in collaboration with existing sworn personnel.

Additionally, Governor Reeves signed Senate Bill 2788, which authorized the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol to set up radar on highways in municipalities with a population above 15,000.

Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said during a news conference with Reeves that Capitol police will have greater visibility in downtown, extending from Jackson State University (JSU) to Interstate 55, and up into the Fondren area just north of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC).

“The goal here is to create a safer capital city,” Tindell said. “The citizens of Mississippi should be able to visit their state capital, state hospital, state museums without the fear of being raped, robbed or murdered.”

Reeves referred to a “never-ending cycle of crime” in Jackson, causing residents to fear for their lives.

Reeves asked Jackson residents to stay alert and notify police of crime.

“This initiative will help,” Reeves said. “It will make a difference, but this is just the first step in reducing crime in Mississippi.”

Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba released a statement about the governor’s 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.

Chokwe A. Lumumba, Mayor of Jackson

Jackson City Councilman Kenneth Stokes said the governor’s announcement was a step in the right direction, but the ultimate decision will be whether or not the governor will bring in the National Guard.

“This is basically going to be whether or not the governor is going to be reelected to a second term as governor. If they If they perceive him over the state of Mississippi as being weak on crime, then people are going to start feeling that it’s in Jackson today, but will be in Brandon tomorrow. It’s in Jackson today, but it’s going to be in Tupelo tomorrow. So this is the time to nip this criminal activity in the bud,” said Stokes.

Councilman Aaron Banks also commented on the governor’s initiative.

He tweeted, “I am thankful Gov. Tate Reeves has launched the Capital Safety Initiative. This is the all hands on deck approach we need to deter crime. Having more visibility will give Jackson police the opportunity to patrol and do more in spiked areas of crime around the city.”

Representatives from Jackson Police Department and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office were not invited to the governor’s news conference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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