Mayor Announces Crime Commission

Meridian's mayor announced the creation of a commission to help curb crime.

Mayor Cheri Barry was joined at a Thursday news conference by some members of her Blue-Ribbon Commission on Crime.

The commission has representation from the religious, education, business, law and criminal justice fields.

Its task is to find ways that citizens can help reduce the overall crime rate in Meridian.

The members are:
Bishop W.C Brown
Lisa Howell
Gerald Kidd
Donnie Smith
Rev. Melvin Hendricks
William Arlinghaus
Kasey Bailey
Roscoe Jones
Mary Barrett Russell
Jerry Jordan
John Nelson

Barry says she organized the commission based on the city's needs.

"Specifically, the commission will focus on decreasing the violent crime, strengthening the neighborhood watches, outreach to churches and businesses, outreach to community groups involved in criminal justice issues and continuing to improve citizen communication with the Meridian Police Department," Barry said.

One area that the group will examine is how to increase the number of Neighborhood Watch organizations. It will also work to strengthen existing Neighborhood Watch groups.

"I think one of the biggest things is to utilize the contacts of the other members of this commission," said MPD Capt. Wade Johnson. "Hopefully, by them promoting the idea of a Neighborhood Watch to their friends, to their co-workers, to their business contacts, we can spawn the interest that way."

Citing that the Meridian Police Department's community policing effort is working, Acting Chief James Sharpe says he's working with the mayor to reinstate the department's bicycle patrol.

"We're going to patrol the inner city, the neighborhoods and the parks," said Sharpe. "Primarily, we're trying to get ahead of certain things that we have happening in the parks. The later part of springtime is coming and summer is coming. And we know that we normally have a problem particularly with Highland Park. So, we're getting a jump on that by putting officers on bikes and on foot in Highland Park and that surrounding neighborhood. We're also going to have them patrolling districts within the city. That's our inner city, instead of the main strips, and have them actually getting down into the neighborhoods."

Comprised of 5-6 officers, Sharpe says the bike patrol is expected to be in operation within the next three weeks