Cutting Crime, Part 1

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It's been about two months now since Meridian's mayor put all criminals in the city on notice and placed extra officers on the streets, but what do all of the mayoral candidates have to say about where the crime problem stands now?

Two candidates tell Newscenter 11 they feel the solution lies within the city's police department, while another says the problem has more to do with parts of the community that are run down.

One thing that all of Meridian's mayoral candidates agree on is that the city definitely has a crime problem, though they are quick to point out that most other American cities are faced with crime problems as well. As for whether the city has a gang problem, some say yes and other aren't totally convinced. Bottom line, everyone agrees that something has to be done.

"The streets don't appear to be any safer," Democratic candidate Rod Amos says. "Businesses don't appear to be any safer and people traveling the streets don't seem to feel any safer."

"Meridian is no different from any other community," Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry says. "Not only in our state, but in our nation. And crime is rampant across our nation. But I can tell you that our Meridian Police Department is fighting back hard against gang activity and criminal activity."

"The city definitely has a gang problem," Democratic candidate Percy Bland says. "We said that four years ago. We tried to do things to bring more safety in to our schools districts because of it. We want some of the same things that the county schools have with their SRO officers."

For months, we have heard from community leaders that an obvious solution to solving the crime problem is for members of the community to gather and discuss ways to get a handle on things. But after months of shootings and robberies, including the shooting of a 10-month old child and a civil rights icon, to local business owners being robbed as they leave work, the candidates say it is time to stop talking and start acting.

"Begin to clean up around our city," Amos says. "Because crime tends to gravate to areas that are unkept and not cleaned."

"We're going to have a new police department," Barry says. "We've got new police cars out there and a state of the art communication system. So, all of these things working together with a community that is working directly with our police department."

"We did pay another $100,000 to our law enforcement officers," Bland says. "You know, I want to provide more resources than we currently have and I also want to provide current teams on the streets to deal with those issues."

Thursday night on Newscenter 11 at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m., we will be talking with the candidates about the qualities they will be looking for when hiring a new police chief.