Precinct Four has a new leader at the helm, following the recent appointment of Tyrone Buckley as commander. Buckley, a 19-year veteran with the Jackson Police Department (JPD), has a bachelor’s degree from Alcorn State University, a master’s from Belhaven University and is currently working on his dissertation at Jackson State University. He recently spoke to Sun Senior Staff Writer Anthony Warren about his new role and his plans for the precinct.
When you get your doctorate, do you want to be called doctor or commander?
“Commander is fine. Officer is fine. Deep down, I’m always a police officer. I’m not driven by titles.”
What are your priorities for Precinct Four?
“To improve on the foundation that has already been laid. To continue to reach out to the community and continue to shape the precinct into a precinct that the community wants and expects.”
What kind of precinct does the community want? How do you determine what the community wants?
“A precinct that represents the interests of the businesses, churches and residents of the community we live in. We have an apartment coalition, a church coalition and a business coalition. We host meetings for the groups at the precinct, where we invite business leaders, church leaders and apartment landlords and residents to tell us what their concerns are in the area.”
When do these coalitions meet?
“The apartment coalition meets on the second Tuesday of each month; the business coalition meets on the third Tuesday of the month and the church coalition meets on the fourth Tuesday.”
What have been some of the concerns presented by these coalitions, in particular, the business coalition?
“Businesses are concerned with panhandling, shoplifting and things of that nature and we can assist them in addressing those problems. The churches have been concerned lately with safety issues and active shooter situations. Some church leaders are asking for the information we have on how to deal with active shooters.”
Let’s talk about active shooters for a minute. What kind of information does JPD provide on how to protect congregations from active shooters?
“We have staff at the Jackson Police Officers Training Academy that provide training to law enforcement entities. We also have individuals in this department who are certified to teach church members. We let them know that this type of training is available.”
Have any churches asked for the training?
“They haven’t since I’ve been here.”
I want to go back to the panhandling issue. How can the precinct help businesses with this problem?
“We know that panhandling and homelessness is a social problem. We want to partner with churches and other groups to come up with a solution to the problem and to assist individuals who need somewhere to go, something to eat or a place to stay. We can assist in that aspect. We also try to have a dialogue with those individuals – the homeless and the panhandlers – and advise them of the places they can go to get the things they need.”
If you get a complaint about a panhandler in a particular area, how do you handle it?
“We have been known to go and ask them to leave and many will leave on their own. The businesses also have the right to tell them to leave, if they’re on private property, and they’ll have to comply.”
What if they don’t? Can you arrest those panhandlers?
“It depends on two things. The trespassing, which is a misdemeanor, has to happen in our presence. If they’re ask to leave and they leave, nothing happens. If they don’t then the owner can file a trespass charge for refusing to leave, which we can enforce.”
Why did you become a police officer?
“I think we deep down it’s the hero syndrome. Everyone desires to help others. To me, law enforcement officers are real-life heroes that make a difference in the community. The idea is that when you first come on as a young officer, you want to save the world, but you soon realize that you have to take the job one call at a time. You become committed to serving and helping people. Above all, that passion drove me to go into law enforcement. It’s a little cliché, but it’s true.”
In 19 years, what’s your proudest moment on the force?
“You don’t always see how your contributions make a difference. But I bought school supplies for one family in Jackson, and the parent came up to me later and told me about her daughter, who had got-
See Tyrone Buckley, Page 6A
ten a track scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi, and her son who was working and doing well, and said they wouldn’t be able to do those things had they not had that positive interaction with me. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was just able to provide those supplies they needed. It’s not all about law enforcement. That’s a small percentage of what we do.”
How do you instill this spirit of service in your officers?
“You lead by example. That’s important for young officers to see leadership go above and beyond to help the community. It shows them that you can help to make real change.”
How many officers does Precinct Four have now? And are you short-staffed?
“To include myself, approximately 52. I would like to say law enforcement agencies across America. It’s not a local problem, but a national problem.”
Ideally, how many officers would you like to have?
“I would like to have an officer on every corner. I remember Cmdr. Freeman used to say that he needed 75 officers. To give you a number I’m comfortable with, would require more research. I’m still learning about the precinct. To give an adequate number, I would have to look at a needs assessment of the area, which we’re currently in the process of conducting.”
What are your biggest needs right now, as it relates to the precinct?
“Human resources and finances. One of the things that’s required for any organization to run well is people and money. Our officers deserve raises, but fiscally that is not possible right now. We need to continue to motivate officers to do a good job and provide the best service they can provide.”
With an officer shortage and low pay, is it difficult to boost morale among the ranks?
“Morale is always an ongoing challenge. It’s not equated with the monetary part of it. They need other incentives to perform as well, such as roving shifts.”
Roving shifts, what are those?
“That’s where you work three days on and have three days off or you have two on and two off. As a rookie, it was great, because it gave me two weekends off each month. Of course, manpower prevents us from doing those things.”
What shifts do officers work now?
“We have the Alpha shift, which is from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Bravo shift, which is 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and the Charlie shift, which is from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. We have late cars on each shift as well, which come in an hour after each shift ends to ensure we constantly have officers available to answer calls.”