Businesses React To Crime

Despite recently released numbers which show a drop in some crimes, Meridian police are still advising the public to be vigilant. In fact, Captain Dean Harper with the Meridian Police Department says this week's armed robbery at a bar is an indicator of why caution is needed.

"This shows that the suspects are getting even more desperate in trying other means to carry out their crimes," says Harper.

That's why business owner, Kevin Lewis, says he's taking precautions.

"With all of the robberies you have to be more careful now," Lewis said. "When you have cash on hand you have to be more careful when you're leaving because they're robbing everybody, no exceptions."

Lewis owns Jenkins Barbershop on 5th Street. It has been open 50 years in the heart of Meridian's historic African American Business District.

Customer Evelyn Campbell moved back to Meridian from Massachusetts 8 years ago. She said she feels that much of the crime is sparked by problems involving the younger generation.

"I feel like with the changing of the times and the economy and all those things, that's the problem," Campbell said.

However, Ronnie Shack, who owns the Rib Shack, has a different view. Early Wednesday someone sitting in a car in a parking lot mere yards away from his restaurant on 18th Avenue was robbed by a man armed with a gun.

"I just want to cry out to all of the owners of the businesses," says Shack. "The guys that work for me were all incarcerated at one time or another. So, what I'm saying is that these kids may need a job. I'm just asking all business owners, whatever their criteria is for hiring ex-cons or ex-felons, I'm just crying out that everybody ain't bad and everybody deserves a second chance and maybe that will help."

A week ago the Meridian Police Department released crime numbers for December 2012. They showed that burglaries, robberies and car thefts were down compared to what they were in November 2012 and in December 2011. Despite improvements in those areas, the number of shooting calls and murders for 2012 were still higher than in 2011.