Jackson Police Chief James Davis, Precinct 4 Commander Obie Wells and Hinds County Interim Sheriff Marshand Crisler encouraged homeowners at a meeting of the McLeod Community Association to call them if they had problems resolving any issues in their neighborhood.
They each gave out their cell phone number to residents as they usually do at many community meetings.
Dave V. Melton, president of the association, set up the meeting held at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church to address the issue of gunshots being fired and youngsters driving four-wheelers on city streets in the neighborhood.
“We’ve had a lot of gunfire and it’s getting out of hand,” Melton said. “It’s just shooting up in the air. Everybody knows a shot fired up in the air has to come down.”
Melton said the neighborhood that has about 380 houses and centers around McLeod Elementary is quiet but some rental houses have brought problems. “We have a quiet neighborhood, but we have rental houses, and the owners haven’t been very selective about the tenants,” he said.
Residents gave the location of several houses where they suspect drugs are being dealt, including one that is vacant. Davis promised that JPD would investigate the situation.
About 30 people attended the meeting. Everyone had his or her temperature checked before being admitted and masks were worn to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Residents complained of speeding on streets around the school and young people engaged in illegal activities such as using drugs on the McLeod Elementary School property after hours. Davis said he would reach out to the Jackson public schools superintendent about that issue.
There were also complaints of driving four-wheelers on city streets which is illegal. Davis said police officers could impound a four-wheeler should they encounter that.
Residents gave numerous examples of calling 911 and getting no police response. Davis said response is offered according to the priority of calls but “every call is important.”
Residents were encouraged to use their cell phones to take photos and videos of unlawful activities and to share video from home security cameras if it captures such.
Ashby Foote of Ward 1 encouraged residents to get involved with the police and sheriff. “We’re here to take action and get crime under control.”
Davis told the crowd violent crime is up across America and much of it is due to broken homes. He said many teens in the city of Jackson live with other teens and no adult, a situation police officers frequently encounter when there is a curfew for under-age children, and they need to take them home.
“What we find is we have 13, 14, 15, 16, 17-year-olds living in a house with an 18-year-old,” he said. “The parents have just completely walked away from their home.”
Davis would like for JPD officers to be assigned to various JPS sites and for the Officer Friendly program to be reinstated. He didn’t mention how that would be done given the department’s current staffing. JPS provides security for its buildings and JPD responds if called.
Crisler said he’s interested in the McLeod neighborhood because he lives nearby in Heatherwood.
“Whatever happens on this side of Old Canton Road happens on the other side of Old Canton Road,” he said. “You have to have strong homeowners’ associations.”
Crisler encouraged residents to keep their property and yards neat and meet their neighbors.
“I want the nosiest neighbors in America,” he said. “Those are the ones who will keep your house safe. If you don’t know your neighbors on the right side and left side, shame on you.”
He informed residents that the Hinds County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the establishment of a gun suppression unit and said that should help remove guns from the hands of individuals convicted of crimes who have lost the right to bear arms.
Davis told the audience that Jackson lacks a city jail, and it would be useful to have one. The city has an agreement to use the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond.
“If you give me a jail, I will fill it up,” he said. “I’m committed to doing all I can to keep our community safe.”
Doris Ellis, an 18-year resident of the neighborhood, said the meeting was well overdue.
“I got a lot of insight,” she said. “The phone numbers are helpful. It feels good to put a face with a name.”
Rev. Louis Ruckes Jr., who has lived in the neighborhood for five years, seemed encouraged by the number of people who turned out for the meeting. “It’s the first time in three years, I’ve seen so many people” come to a neighborhood meeting, he said.