Another dead body; another police chief

July 3, 2018 in News

By Othor Cain,

Editor

and Cianna Hope Reeves,

JSU Student Intern,

JPD Interim Police Chief James Davis discusses new plans to shift the department and city forward.

JPD Interim Police Chief James Davis discusses new plans to shift the department and city forward.

Shortly before 7a.m., Thursday, June 28, a body was found outside of the Warren Hood Building in downtown Jackson. Several city offices are housed in this building including the city’s CAO and public works director. Employees were asked to start their work day at 10 a.m.

To put this location into perspective, the Hood Building is directly across the street from City Hall, where Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and others work every day. Less than one block away, you’ll find the offices of Hinds County Sheriff Victor Mason along with the Jackson Detention Center.

One full block away from the Hood Building is where you will find the headquarters of the Jackson Police Department and it’s newest leader, Interim Police Chief James Davis.

Based on a preliminary investigation, it shows that there may have been injuries of some type to the unidentified body and it appears he may have been assaulted some time prior to his death.

Police have not identified the body and are only saying at this time that the body belongs to a black male.

Fast forward seven hours Thursday, and just across the street from the Hood Building, Lumumba held a press conference to announce his selection of the next person to lead the Jackson Police Department.

Lumumba introduced assistant police chief James Davis, who has been on the force for nearly 25 years, as the next man to lead the department as interim chief, a department that is on a rapid decline in numbers, home now to roughly 325 officers.

This day is also significant because it comes three days before former Interim Chief Anthony Moore’s interim status was set to expire based on state law.

Lumumba thanked Moore for his dedication to the force.

“Chief Moore has been instrumental in helping to shape the direction of the Jackson Police Department. I want to thank him for all of his efforts while taking on the role as interim police chief, a role which has not been easy and has come with its own set of challenges and his commitment for keeping the community safe,” stated the mayor.

In announcing Davis as his choice to lead the men and women of the department, Lumumba said, “I do believe that Chief Davis and his time with the police department will bring great leadership. I look forward to what he can build and the opportunity that he could possibly end up being the permanent selection.”

Davis, who has been with the force for 24 years, started in patrol and was named the first black range master. His most recent position with JPD was assistant police chief prior to serving as deputy chief over patrol operations.

Davis said he is ready for the challenge and holds on to the work he has already been doing in the community. “I’m excited to continue engaging the community and I’m soliciting help from businesses, churches and other organizations because it takes all of us to fight crime here in Jackson,” Davis said.

In a telephone conversation later in the day with Lumumba, he pushed back on the notion of an assumption that he didn’t have a plan nor didn’t know what he was looking for in a police chief.

LINK: Mr. Mayor, you campaigned for a year; you’ve been in office for a year, I’m hard pressed to believe that you still don’t have an idea of what you’re looking for in a police chief…no definitive plan coming in.

MAYOR: First, I think that’s an inferred assumption that I campaigned for a year and we’ve not done any research or work. That isn’t true. To be honest with you, I wanted to keep Lee Vance, I wanted to work with him. But for several reasons we couldn’t agree…you have to remember that I still operate on some of the fundamental principals that my father did. We can change the leader but when his/her command staff doesn’t change, you’re really not fixing the problem.

LINK: Do you know what you’re looking for in a police chief?

MAYOR: I absolutely do, but we will not be rushed into making a decision. I’m the first mayor to be bound by this 180 day law. Far too often previous mayors have rushed into making decisions for whatever reason. I will not rush the process. But, yes, I know that I’m looking for stability, I’m looking for someone with proven leadership skills. This is not to caste any disparaging remarks on Chief Moore or anyone else that served. But, I’m looking for someone that officers respect and someone that understands this community.

LINK: Mr. Mayor you said you spoke with members of JPD prior to selecting Interim Chief Moore, I spoke to at least ten officers, none of whom endorsed Moore or talked to you about him being selected. In fact, they all gave him a vote of no confidence.

MAYOR: When did you speak to them or better yet, when did they give him a vote of no confidence? Immediately after my naming him or later?

LINK: Immediately after you named him.

MAYOR: I can assure you Moore was the department’s choice. The union endorsed him, the community spoke highly of him…in fact I can show you the text messages that I received endorsing his appointment. Much like the many, many text messages I’ve received today about the appointment of Chief Davis.

LINK: For clarity is a search underway for a chief and if so, when did it begin?

MAYOR: Yes, a national search is underway; in fact the former chief of Dallas (Brown) is on the search committee as is someone that holds a high ranking position with another federal law enforcement agency that I cannot publicly identify.

LINK: Why not announce Davis as your choice and bring him before the council for confirmation?

MAYOR: I’m going to watch and observe. I’m excited that Davis could become my choice to hold the job permanently, but we will watch him throughout the process. What he does, how he builds morale and fix other issues.

LINK: Mr. Mayor was Interim Police Chief Moore’s appointment a political favor or payback? That’s the most consistent rumor I’ve heard through out his time in that seat?

MAYOR: That’s that junior high school mentality that’s plaguing this city. A political favor/payback? That goes outside of the principals that I’m guided by. No sir.

Lumumba stated the search for a police chief is a rigorous and lengthy deliberation process because he is looking out for the people’s best interest.

“I always choose getting the decision right over it being swift and quick, so that will be a consistent thing in my time… I will not apologize for my deliberation because I believe that the citizens of Jackson deserve the very best,” declared Lumumba.

He added, “We want someone who is community oriented, we want someone who can engage with citizens, someone who commands the confidence of the citizens of Jackson, someone who works on morale of officers. I want someone who looks at how we demonstrate that Jackson will be a first-class police department that will not stand for any corrupt activities within our police department, and we look forward to that individual taking the helm.”

If Davis is interim for his full term, Jackson will have been without a permanent chief for nearly a year.

Davis said he will apply for the vacant position and hopes to be chosen.