Commentary: Crime at the surface in Jackson

Jackson Capitol Police Headquarters is housed in the E.T. Woolfolk State Office Building located at 501 N. West Street.

By Chris Young,

Contributing Writer,

Jackson Capitol Police Headquarters is housed in the E.T. Woolfolk State Office Building located at 501 N. West Street.

Implementing solutions to fight crime is hard enough, but it seems in Jackson we struggle to agree on the solutions themselves. I suspect that JPD would agree. Just to provide a snapshot, look at the overall crime just in the month of May in the chart on the next page. See what the Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics in Jackson reveal, when combining subcategories.

These days, especially now in light of the shootings at the Mississippi Fairgrounds Mudbug Festival, Saturday, April 30, there are numerous elected officials scampering around doing something that looks like a deeper dive on crime fighting. Let’s remember, it’s been less than six months since Jackson earned the distinction of having the highest per capita murder rate in the country.

In 1995, there were 92 homicides in Jackson (7+ per month), 25 years later in 2020 there were 130 (10+ per month), and in 2021 there were 155 (just below 13 per month). These numbers represent all of Jackson, not just select areas.

The Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) seems to be getting the majority of the attention and the majority of funding, despite crime being city-wide. CCID stakeholders began having regular meetings in 2018, yet the funding for the infrastructure improvements that were sought began in 2014. 

The CCID is 8.7 square miles, less than 8% of the total 113 square miles of Jackson. The Capitol Police now has 150 officers authorized for those 8.7 square miles which include the State Fairgrounds. The Jackson Police Department had 254 officers as of last month, 101 fewer than budgeted, yet they are responsible to cover the remaining 104 square miles of the city.

That converts to a ratio of 17.2 Capitol police officers to one square mile of jurisdiction versus 2.4 Jackson police officers to one square mile of jurisdiction. Sadly, the priorities are very clear.

It all makes me think of an iceberg. There is so much more to an iceberg than what we can see on the surface. The majority of an iceberg and the part that is capable of causing the most damage to a ship is underneath the surface. Just like with crime – root causes. There are always other issues involved. Poverty, mental illness, addiction, racism, unemployment and homelessness are always on the list. These issues represent the part of the iceberg beneath the surface, but no less lethal.

Will the day ever come when we will invest more in our people than on license plate readers and cameras? When will we see clearly that our people are suffering whether or not the sidewalks around the Capitol are pristine? When will the concept of serving the people translate to actually serving the people?

Economic suffocation and indifference breed isolation, pain and desperation. 

The part of the iceberg that causes the most damage is underneath the surface.

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