Citizens Protest Crime Firings Tuesday at City Council | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Citizens Protest Crime Firings Tuesday at City Council

(Update: Supporters of community policing are calling for Jacksonians to go to City Council meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday downtown at City Hall to call for the mayor and police chief to reverse their decision to eliminate the Crime Prevention Unit. Read through the following thread for background.)

Verbatim from Bob Oertel, moderator of Precinct 4's community policing (COPS) program, in a Sept. 28 response to the city's announcement that it is cutting the city's Crime Prevention Unit:

Friends & Neighbors, There have been some recent developments regarding the structuring of the JPD and the mayor's decision to eliminate the Crime Prevention program in Jackson. It is widely accepted that crime prevention programs on the whole including community policing and government) are both cost-effective and socially responsible to reduce the consequences of crime and victimization. Certainly the question of how effective the eight crime prevention specialists and our local crime prevention programs is working should be asked. However, I do not believe that it is appropriate for our mayor to swiftly discard this essential component of our resources to fight crime without providing a forum for public discourse...Or even bring it up for discussion with our city council. A lot of folks that I have spoken with feel that dismantling community policing and government are not far behind on Mr. Melton's list.

The most recent information says there is a special budget committee meeting tomorrow afternoon in the Council Chambers at 1 PM, and a special meeting of the City Council immediately following or at 3 PM, whichever is sooner. I plan on showing up for this meeting and hope to be granted a short time to speak to our leaders regarding this issue. It would be appreciated if members of the community would be there for support and to show unity in the idea that long-term benefits regarding crime in Jackson will be found in proactive and preventative strategies and not in reactionary "let's just build bigger jails" ideology.

I have great respect for both Sheri Jones and JoAnn Harris, the CP specialists that I have had a pleasure getting to know at Precinct 4. Ms Jones feels that the following are a few questions that we need to be asking our government in the absence of Crime Prevention:

Who does the community call to organize & conduct community meetings?

Each year CP units go into the schools and educate the students, this also includes the daycares. During special events, i.e. Red Ribbon week, CP goes into the schools as a unit and put on a special program in the auditorium for the students. We also teach several other CP programs in the schools: Drug Awareness, Personal safety, Stranger Danger, Law Enforcement Day and more....

We DO NOT MENTOR... we teach common sense approaches to preventing crime and ways to enhance the quality life in the community. We take a pro-active approach to crime prevention, police are re-active, most of the time, they're called after crimimal activity occurs.

We also setup display/informatin tables at community events, schools, churches and businesses. This could last 4 hours or more. There are times when Crime Prevention organized these events or assisted organizations in getting the event organized. CP Reps would make sure JPD was represented at these events by contacting different units with JPD and ensured someone from those units participated.

Who will conduct walk-through surveys of your homes and businesses?

Are police officers certified to conduct these surveys? Crime Prevention Specialists are trained and certified in both conducting surveys and crime prevention by International Society of Crime Prevetion Practioners.

Once a survey has been completed at your home or business, the Reps provide written recommendations to the owners. This walk through could taken up to an hour or more. Should beat officers take time off the streets to do the same?

Crime Prevention Specialists also go out to businesses and place Emergency Business Decals on doors which assist officers in knowing who to notify if any criminal activity occurred after hours. There are times Reps go to a location and place up to 50 decals or more in one location. When will an officer have the time to do this?

We also place H.E.A.T Decals on vehicles. Reps do this at the citizen request. This could be one person or a group of people. We go out on weekends and evening hours and place decals on citizen of Jackson vehicles. Although the steps to eliminate the crime prevention program in Jackson have been taken, we would appreciate your support tomorrow in voicing disapproval.

Thanks and hope to see you tomorrow

Bob Oertel
Moderator,
Jackson Precinct 4 COPS
[e-mail missing]

Previous Comments

ID
120266
Comment

I remember seeing in the JFP, a couple of months ago, a photo of Melton meeting with some COPS people and generally warming up to them. And now he does this. Weird. Just plain weird. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-28T21:43:02-06:00
ID
120267
Comment

This story isn't even on the clarion ledger site or wlbt. Sad

Author
*SuperStar*
Date
2005-09-29T09:35:52-06:00
ID
120268
Comment

From Bob today: Friends & Neighbors, † NOTE THE SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING IS AT 2PM TODAY Please†find the email below from†Council President Marshand Crisler†concerning the elimination of the Crime Prevention Unit of the JPD.† This email was directed to Genny Seeley, President of the Association of South Jackson Neighborhoods (ASJN) and the facilitator for Precinct 1 COPS. Hey Genny, I havenít heard from the Mayor or Robert Walker yet. However, I would like to†invite you and others to the Special Council Meeting on September 29th, at 2 PM. There will be an opportunity for residents to speak out regarding their opposition to abolishing the Crime Prevention Unit. Once again, it is important that they realize this is an administrative matter, controlled entirely by the Mayor. The Council has no authority to override the Mayorís decisions concerning personnel/administrative matters. So, the strongest voice of opposition is THE PEOPLE! I strongly encourage you to mobilize citizens concerned about the future of this invaluable asset to our community. Marshand Thanks and hope to see you today. Bob Oertel Moderator, Jackson Precinct 4 COPS [email][email protected][/email] ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-29T10:37:30-06:00
ID
120269
Comment

I did just get a confirmation that the special meeting this afternoon is indeed 3PM. Sorry about the confusion, and hope that many of you can still make it... Thanks, Bob Oertel Moderator, Jackson Precinct 4 COPS

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-29T12:55:00-06:00
ID
120270
Comment

I did just get a confirmation that the special meeting this afternoon is indeed 3PM. Sorry about the confusion, and hope that many of you can still make it... Thanks, Bob Oertel Moderator, Jackson Precinct 4 COPS

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-29T12:55:16-06:00
ID
120271
Comment

Word is that this meeting is going to blow up because so many people are mad about the crime prevention unit being cut. Anyone interested ought to go to City Hall RIGHT NOW. I'm headed there. The budget meeting actually is starting now, at 2, with the special council meeting at 3. But word I'm getting from the inside is that the fireworks are likely to start before 3. See y'all there.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-29T13:03:49-06:00
ID
120272
Comment

Alright, who was there and who's gonna dish the dirt? I was going to try and make it, but I got called out right before.

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-09-29T17:07:24-06:00
ID
120273
Comment

Ali, I'm too brain-dead to relate it all now. Some summary points: 1. Lots of people are furious at the mayor. This includes Marshand Crisler, Margaret Barrett Simon and Leslie McLemore. Ben Allen was out of town on business. 2. When they started talking about this, apparently other Council members got and walked out rather than listen to the public commentary section. I wasn't there yet then. The mayoral staff followed. 3. Only two reporters were there for the the public complaints: me and Othor Cain of Mississippi Link. Several people being fired tomorrow (with 48 hours' notice and two week's severence after many years) were there as well and very upset. 4. Council members said the mayor had not spoken with any of them about this before eliminating the unit. McLemore declared that he is "missing in action." 5. After the meeting ended, we got word that Frank Melton had called a press conference for 5 p.m. there to respond. He showed up with usual posse in tow: Carolyn Redd, Chief Shirlene Anderson, bodyguards, Dale Danks, Assistant Chief Roy Sandifer, city attorney Sarah O'Reilly Evans and others. Lots of posse. 6. TV cameras and Jack Mazurack of the Ledge were there for this, in addition to Othor and me. Othor and I asked numerous questions, Jack one I think, TV none. 7. Melton told us that the decision of the chief was final and it was because they have a Quality of Life Task Force planned -- working with state Health & Human Servicces and various other agencies -- that would take care of more than just crime. They did not offer many specifics. 8. Melton blamed the Council members who were there of "playing politics" and declared that he would not have that in the city. He said they were mad about because he wouldn't support $70+ million bond issue. He tried to present it to sound like only Council people were upset, and their "friends" -- not any of the people of Jackson. 9. In one interesting answer to my question about the council members being so upset, he said that they had not bothered to mention the Quality of Life Task Force that was taking the place of the CPU. A sentence later, he added that he had not told them about it, yet, "to be fair." 10. He said that task force would only take "days" to get up and running and could replace the prevention officers' tasks immediately. Anderson said that Quality of Life officers (I believe she called them) were already doing much of the same job, and that the positions were "redundant." 11. After the press conference, Melton walked by me and jokingly said, "I haven't seen you in a while. I'd been telling people you'd moved to California." I looked back at him and said, "Why, that's funny. I've been telling people the same thing about you." (Smile.) More details on this in this next issue. Suffice it to say that a crowd is expected at City Council at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Crisler et al. are encouraging people to show up en masse and express their opinion. However, Melton said there is no way they will change their minds. K, all I can muster now.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-29T18:21:54-06:00
ID
120274
Comment

[Bob Ortel's update] Friends & Neighbors, † Wow, what a communication break-down. † I have been receiving numerous emails over the past few days regarding the Crime Prevention Unit issue, and how and when the city was going to open up its discussion.† I don't really have the time to type out all that happened today, hopefully you will read about it in the paper tomorrow, although I don't know if the Clarion Ledger was even there.† What I can say is that after getting numerous accounts of when this special meeting was to take place at city hall, I called the city clerk's office this afternoon and was told that it was to begin at 3PM.† This†contradicted the information that we had gotten first hand from council president Marshand Crisler who told us that it was at 2PM.† The clerk's office actually sent out memos today to city personnel stating this 3PM meeting time. † So I showed up a bit before 3 after calling the clerk's office again at 2:30 to make sure that I could get 2 minutes to address the council and they said sure.† When I arrived and told the officer at the security desk my purpose for being there, he told me that the meeting had been over a long time.† That the meeting actually did begin at 2, and that 3 members of the council had walked out of the meeting, leaving†Mr. Crisler to close the meeting due to not having quorum. † Wow.† Anyway, Mr. Crisler†was very responsive to the folks that did show up in support of Crime Prevention and suggested that we show up again (hopefully in larger numbers) to next Tuesday's 10AM council meeting. † I hope that you all are not getting frustrated with the number of emails that I have been sending out as of late, but I do believe that this is important stuff.† If you want to get off of this email list, please follow the directions found at the bottom of this email. † I will be submitting†a letter to the editors of local periodicals over the next few days. Take care, Bob Oertel Moderator, Jackson Precinct 4 COPS [email][email protected][/email]

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-29T18:22:26-06:00
ID
120275
Comment

Jesus Effin' Christ. So, he disbanded that "unit"...and created another one with people doing the exact same job...costing the same amount of money (I assume)? BRILLIANT. I WISH I had thought of that. Hey, I have an idea...Let's fire Melton without telling him and REHIRE Harvey under a title other than "Mayor"...something like the title "Official Mr. At Least It Would Have Been Quieter" Task Force.

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-09-29T18:29:25-06:00
ID
120276
Comment

Just some thoughts based on what's here and in the CL this morning. The Quality of Life Task Force is obviously a rushed response to the anger over disbanding the Crime Prevention Unit because -- Melton didn't tell anyone about it prior to the Council meeting, -- Melton had not even discussed it with people he says will serve, including those inside his administration as well as others (Hinds Sheriff's Office and Stated Education and Health and Human Services agencies) he says will be represented, -- Melton misjudged the public (and internal response) and had to come up with something so his pants wouldn't be found completely down. Also, the whole thing continues Melton's imperial attitude. He won't stand for playing politics in the city?!? Like he has been doing anything BUT? But what I really love is the response of some Council members. Charles Tillman: The leadership (Council President Crisler) didn't bring us together and tell us what the concern was. And he tried to railroad the agenda. That wasn't really fair, honorable nor legal. But no similar comments directed at Melton and Anderson when the summarily fire employees, gut city programs, refuse to hear from employees or citizens, refuse to share information with anyone (including the Council), and create a whole new intergovernmental layer of bureaucracy? I used to like Tillman when he was just a lowly school board member... And in keeping with the Emperor Cowboy image he has so carefully crafted: He told us the union would be part of the selection of the new fire chief. He is really leaving us out.óJackson Fire Department union president Chandra Hardaway Melton said he hasn't spoken with her, but They are welcomed to be involved, as long as they know I make the final decision. Maybe a some of the right politicsóparticipatoryóshould be practiced in the city?

Author
Rex
Date
2005-09-30T07:37:53-06:00
ID
120277
Comment

This Quality of Life Task Force is clearly something he made up in the last 24 hours. Since, in his initial statement about destroying the crime prevention unit, he said that his visits to high schools and his mentoring would replace their function. Not a word about this new group. (Unless, of course, the CL's reporting just missed that crucial bit of info. Which is entirely possible, but in this case I don't the the Task Force had been conceived of yet.) How can he prove they were doing a bad job, when he doesn't even know what they're doing?

Author
kate
Date
2005-09-30T07:53:10-06:00
ID
120278
Comment

There was a Quality of Life task force under Mayor Johnson. The purpose of this task force was to coordinate the activities of various city departments to effect change in a particular area of the city (the first target area was bounded generally by Capitol, Ellis, 80 and Gallatin). This group was able to accomplish some good things, particularly examining various codes related to quality of life issues. For example, parking cars in the yard is regulated by the general code of ordinances and is enforced by the police department, but having junk cars on your property is regulated by the zoning ordinance and enforced by the zoning administrator. Streamlining the various codes and enforcement is a good step towards improving the quality of life in the city. This task force sort of fell apart after the election because the leaders of the group no longer work for the city. Maybe Mayor Melton is talking about reviving this task force, which might be a good thing.

Author
Justin
Date
2005-09-30T08:09:01-06:00
ID
120279
Comment

thanks for the info, Justin. Sounds like that would be a good thing. But, it doesn't replace the activities of the crime prevention unit.

Author
kate
Date
2005-09-30T08:24:48-06:00
ID
120280
Comment

I think the point, which remains to be seen, is whether this was "in the works" or a desperate attempt to band aid yet ANOTHER of Melton's "Off the cuff" decisions...

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-09-30T10:15:37-06:00
ID
120281
Comment

Over the last few months we have seen many communication failures at all levels of government. Now check this out. As the mayor and chief decide that the crime prevention specialists are incompetent and are not effectively doing their job (which at a fundamental level relies on strong communications skills), how are they then being competent leaders by reorganizing at least two of them to positions in the City of Jackson Communications Department? Without ever even having met them? Another thoughtÖ How much of a pay decrease does a civil servant need to be awarded before it is considered firing which is unlawful?

Author
bobnoxious
Date
2005-09-30T12:11:03-06:00
ID
120282
Comment

I don't see how the cause of the Quality of Life Task Force is helped by shutting down the Crime Prevention Unit. They have different functions. It's like shutting down the Olive Garden, putting a Taco Bell in its place, and not seeing what the big deal is because they both serve food. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-09-30T12:39:24-06:00
ID
120283
Comment

A Clarion-Ledger editorial Friday criticized Melton for ignoring the reason that people actually voted for him: crime prevention: Fighting crime the mayor's priority? Jacksonians who flocked to the polls in June to hand Mayor Frank Melton an overwhelming mandate to fight crime must be a bit confused today after learning about job cuts in the Jackson Police Department. Specifically, all eight employees of the city's crime prevention unit are losing their jobs and 10 more will be cut to save money in the budget effective Oct. 1. Isn't "crime prevention" what Jacksonians wanted and Frank Melton campaigned to provide? _____ Good for the Ledge for finding the balls to challenge Melton. One quibble, though: Their lead is absurd; they're back to the "mandate" mantra. Remember that this wasn't exactly a "mandate" and Jacksonians IN NO WAY flocked to the polls in either the Democratic primary or the general election. It was a yawner. The vast majority of Jackson voters did not like either Melton or Johnson enough to actually bother voting in either election. There is no mandate here. However, there is no question that Melton ran a one-issue campaign: crime. And this latest snafu has got a lot of Jacksonians who voted for him hot under the collar and feeling betrayed. Expect fireworks at Council Tuesday.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-01T17:15:13-06:00
ID
120284
Comment

Today, the Ledge nails Melton for his attempts at overhauling the court systemówhile ignoring the law. Glad they're noticing, but didn't Melton say he would do this stuff all along and in his old "Bottom Lines"? Why didn't the Ledge call him out on this stuff during the campaign? Why didn't they investigate his promises for legality then? It's nice to see the Ledge tiptoeing back into the journalistic arena, but damn are they late in this game. Sigh. Editorial today: Mayor cannot dictate jurisprudence So far, Mayor Frank Melton has replaced two of the five municipal judges who serve at the pleasure of the mayor, raising questions about his interference in the court, particularly his requirement for high bail for some defendants. Melton said he wouldn't specifically associate the replacements with the bond request, and acknowledged the judicial branch should be independent, "but ultimately, I'm responsible for securing the safety of the citizens of Jackson. If that means clearing out the entire court over there, I have no problem doing that." The citizens of Jackson should have a problem with that. ____ Marshall Ramsey's cartoon today about Mr. Melton is right on.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-01T17:23:13-06:00
ID
120285
Comment

Melton is starting to upset the folks who actually got him electedóthe unions. Ledge reports: FD union president Chandra Hardaway said Melton told union members they'd be a part of the decision-making. "He told us the union would be part of the selection of the new fire chief," she said. "He is really leaving us out." Melton said he hasn't spoken with her. "They are welcomed to be involved, as long as they know I make the final decision," he said. "The number one criteria is someone who has a passion, someone who is really going to take care of the firemen on an equitable basis." ______ I can't help but ask here: Did the unions truly think that Mr. Melton was going to be a big union guy? I'm assuming we'll be hearing lots more from the unions as the various firings with little notice, and job eliminations, take holdóeven as higher-up positions are getting raises. Sigh.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-01T17:52:01-06:00
ID
120286
Comment

Ledge news brief today: City Council to resume crime prevention talks The Jackson City Council is scheduled to continue its discussion of the Crime Prevention Unit during its meeting Tuesday, Council President Marshand Crisler said. More than a dozen residents had gathered during a special council meeting Thursday to discuss the unit when three council members left the meeting, leaving the body without a quorum. Jackson Mayor Frank Melton and Police Chief Shirlene Anderson had cut the eight-member unit from the Police Department this week. None of the unit members was a sworn officer. Members of the unit had worked with neighborhood associations, distributed public safety tips and scheduled community meetings. Several other council agenda items that weren't voted on Thursday will be on Tuesday's agenda, Crisler said. Those include proposals to increase wages for positions in the city legal department and of the chief executive officer. _____ Can I ask: What in holy [email protected] is the "chief executive officer" of a city government? I hear that Rick Whitlow's salary is $90,000, and I still haven't gotten a straight story on his title. Anyone know for sure?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-01T17:55:47-06:00
ID
120287
Comment

Anybody go to the meeting today?

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-10-04T11:31:43-06:00
ID
120288
Comment

Yes. There were a good number of people there, and all that spoke on this issue were postive in regards to the crime prevention unit. The mayor left when there was a vote by the council to listen to citizens responding to the unit's elimination. This is getting to be pretty typical for this man who claims how he is passionate about working for the city and its community, and then running when they want to speak with him regarding his decisions and the finality of them. Anyway, the council did vote 4-3 to listen to the citizens at that point in the agenda. Barret-Simon, Crsiler, Allen, & McLemore yes and Tillman, Bluntson, & Stokes no. Bluntson then asked about the legality of this vote, and the city's counsel said indeed it was legal. There was a good amount of media coverage there (including the JFP's Adam Lynch) so I will leave it to them for the full reporting, but suffice it to say that a lot of Jackson citizens are getting fed up with Mayor Melton's leadership strategies. More later...

Author
bobnoxious
Date
2005-10-04T11:45:53-06:00
ID
120289
Comment

Thank you very much for the update!

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-10-04T14:02:12-06:00
ID
120290
Comment

Help me out, y'all. Am I the only one who can't find The Clarion-Ledger's story today about Mayor Frank Melton walking out of City Council when the packed chamber of citizens starting to speak about his cutting the Crime Prevention Unit? If anyone else can locate it today, please post it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-05T11:44:47-06:00
ID
120291
Comment

Only this... http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051005/NEWS01/510050381/1002 Nothing about the meeting at all, and I know Jack was there because he said "Hey" Positively absurd...

Author
bobnoxious
Date
2005-10-05T11:51:27-06:00
ID
120292
Comment

Positively absurd... Agreed. Why does The Clarion-Ledger cover for Mr. Melton? They did it during the campaign, they're still doing it. I know they endorsed him, but jeez.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-05T11:56:24-06:00
ID
120293
Comment

It would be interesting to see if they are editing the Council Meetings when they are shown on public access. Is it still broadcast? I figured it may have gone the way of the Crime Stats in the CL! Iím on DtvÖ Maybe the state flower should be a satellite dish! Or at least the official state yard ornament. I long for the day they make satellite dishes that look like yard gnomes! Can someone who has TW start recording the meetings; and we can compare them to the live meetings after the fact. If he is in fact walking out of the meetings on a regular basis shouldn't we know? I think so - especially if it is when some of his 187,000 Jacksonians have something to say! Having seen him at a meeting with the public, where he was doodling, twiddling his fingers, and staring into space as the other speakers spoke about the city, made me think he doesn't listen very well or really care what others have to say.

Author
pikersam
Date
2005-10-05T12:58:28-06:00
ID
120294
Comment

I was just at a JPS meeting where he walked in, took advantage of the free lunch, and left. At least he heard MY part of the presentation. ;)

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-10-05T13:13:37-06:00
ID
120295
Comment

Actually, I do have to retract that statement about nothing being said about the meeting in that piece becasue there is. But not enough. I am pretty happy about the comment that they printed from Margaret regarding making this unit the scapegoat for all of the city's woes. McLemore and Marshand made some pretty strong staements as well, Ben was asleep with his eyes open (I couldn't see what was propping them from my vantage) and Stokes, Tillman, and Bluntson were all combative with the citizens there in support of the CP unit.

Author
bobnoxious
Date
2005-10-05T13:53:38-06:00
ID
120296
Comment

All, Pat just posted our story this week about the Crime Prevention Unit, last Thursday's meeting and yesterday's, when Mr. Melton walked out before hearing the citizens' concern. Read it here.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-10-05T14:20:09-06:00
ID
120297
Comment

"Passion, Benevolence, and Grace......... These will be the hallmarks of my administration." Frank Melton, July 4, 2005

Author
ChrisCavanaugh
Date
2005-10-05T20:43:27-06:00

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