Meridian, Miss. Meridian's police chief took to the microphone to explain a new crime fighting initiative.
Dozens of Queen City residents were on hand as Meridian Police Chief James Lee explained his new "See Something, Say Something" program. Lee did not want to be interviewed on camera, but told the crowd he is committed to protecting the residents of Meridian and those who visit the city. But he said he will need the community's help in order to do that. That's why he's been working with Mayor Percy Bland and other officials to create the 311 hotline.
"We're doing everything that we can to communicate to the community that we're in this together," Mayor Bland said. "We need their help with helping to solve crimes that happen in our city. And we're going to do everything that we can to make people feel comfortable with giving us information."
In order to feel more comfortable, city leaders say residents will be able to report information to 311 without their identity being traced. Mayor Bland told us the hotline is now available on landlines and most wireless providers. He said crime has been down in recent weeks.
"Since we have gone to some of our specific programs in the community with our direct targeting of quadrants, this system is working," Bland said. "We're having a better response time from our officers and we're getting more communication from the citizens."
Lauderdale County Youth Court Judge Veldore Young was also in the audience. She said she is interested in hearing how law enforcement plans to engage the community in fighting crime.
"I'm very concerned that our crime rate is up and that the age of those offenders is down," Judge Young said. "And I'm interested in knowing what we as a community can do to raise these young people's sense of values and morals."
Mayor Bland also told Newscenter 11 he has directed Chief Lee to have all hands on deck during the holiday season in order to protect shoppers in the area.
A second seminar on the "See Something, Say Something" program is set for Friday evening at 5:30 at the Temple Theater in Meridian.